Changes Are Afoot for the SAT

Yesterday it was announced that the SAT would be revising its test for the second time in just over a decade. To help you prepare for the next version of this popular standardized test, find here an outline of the changes plus other important announcements from The College Board that will impact future college admissions.

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What will the new SAT look like?

The new SAT, to be released in 2016, will feature four significant changes:

  • The SAT essay, introduced in 2005, will become an optional segment of the exam
  • SAT scoring, also changed in 2005, will return from the 2400- to the 1600-point system
  • Points will no longer be deducted for incorrect answers (currently students lose 1/4 of a point for each wrong answer)
  • And lastly, “SAT vocabulary” will become a thing of the past, as complete-the-sentence sections of the exam are replaced by ones that test students’ critical reading of a passage.

Why make these changes?

One thought that struck me when I read over these changes was that the SAT is increasingly becoming more like the ACT. The criteria are familiar: no deduction of points for incorrect answers, no required essay, and a significant critical reading section are all key points of the ACT that many students over the past decade have recognized as advantages to taking it over the SAT. So much so that gone are the days that the SAT is the go-to test; when I was a high school junior, nobody ever mentioned the ACT, but when I became a test-prep tutor five years later it was the exam 90% of my students elected to take. Why? When they were evaluated at the start of our course, the overwhelming majority performed better on the ACT than the SAT. It gave them a step-up in achieving a higher ranking, and as students’ favor of the test increased, colleges’ willingness to accept it on equal terms with the SAT followed suit.

For whatever reason, be it an attempt to curry more favor (and cash) or a genuine recognition of a need to assess students more fairly, the SAT is moving towards a format more similar to the ACT.

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What do these changes mean for students?

When I tutored students for the SAT, a significant focus of our preparation was on strategy. To perform well, one has to form a plan of attack, making a practical decision from the outset on how many questions would need to be answered to achieve the desired score. That’s because every wrong answer a student might give could decrease his or her overall score, thanks to the quarter-point deduction for an incorrect choice. Except for the cases where students strove for a perfect score, it was more advantageous to leave x number of questions blank.

Now, however, the idea of “SAT strategy” will be tossed by the wayside. Is this good or bad? Perhaps we should simply say it assesses a different skill. The SAT Reasoning Test, to go by its full name, was designed to test a student’s ability to reason and evaluate. In reality, though, this has meant that Continue Reading ›

Step Into Our Essay Lab

Looking for help on your latest essay or term paper?

eNotes’ Essay Lab is designed to cater to your every writing need. Search our list of tips to tackle the most common essay hurdles, or ask a question of our educators to receive specific help with your prompt, outline, or latest draft. It’s all explained in depth below!

essay

For many of you, midterms are approaching, which means so are the essays and term papers. If you struggle with writing it can be hard to get the specific help you need, especially from the comfort of your own home. Tutors are expensive, and teachers are often too busy to offer the one-on-one help you need when writing or proofing essay drafts. But at eNotes we’ve got you covered.

With our new and improved Essay Lab you can browse the most important writing tips for free, plus ask questions tailored to your very own essay using our Homework Help service. Let us walk you through this area of eNotes and show how it can help you to study smarter:

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The High Cost of College

How to decide whether a four-year degree is right for you.

high cost of college

In a post from May last year we pondered the question, should everyone go to college? And what might still be surprising to some, the answer was a resounding no. As eNotes editor and college professor Jamie described it then,

I believe anyone who wants an education should  pursue one. But I also see many incredibly gifted students who have skills that they are actively discouraged from mastering because they are supposed to have a Bachelor’s degree.  I see young people who have no real interest or desire to stay in school another four years who are miserable and many who are racking up debt when they could be doing something they enjoy, avoiding debt, and making money.

The prevailing opinion in America is that every student must go to college; if they don’t, they’ve somehow failed, or been failed by the system. Yet the cost of an American college education is among the highest in the world. So, if that college degree does you no favors in the job force, or if you drop out before completing your four years, you’re burdened with a mass of student debt to shoulder for the next twenty years.

That’s why it’s important to look at the costs of a college education, weighing out the pros and cons of each side and determining what’s right for you. If you plan to spend your life in academia, of course a university education is a necessity. But if you’d be better suited to a skilled trade, would the debt and time spent out of the workforce pay off? Here’s an excellent infographic from affordable-online-colleges.net to help you weigh your options. You might be surprised by what you find, like the high success rates of those who choose a two-year college over pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.

Read on and let us know your thoughts and questions!

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Check Out eNotes’ Top TAs!

eNotes’ TAs have been busy answering questions for the past month. And now you can see just how many on the brand new TA Leaderboard here.

Simply click on the far right tab labeled “TA Leaderboard” to see who’s at the top.

TA Leaderboard

The TA with the most answers of the month receives a $50 bonus on top of the rewards they receive for answering questions. And the TA with the best answers of the month gets a bonus, too!

Interested? Email us at ta@enotes.com for more info. This job opening is for high school and college students only please.

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We look forward to hearing from you!

Become an eNotes TA!

Are you a high school or undergraduate student interested in helping your fellow peers? Perhaps you tutor on the side, or go out of your way to help friends with their homework? Well, now there’s a place at eNotes just for you!

eNotes is looking to enlist a small team of student contributors that we’re calling our eNotes TAs.

keep-calm-i-m-a-teaching-assistantWhat’s a TA?

A TA (Teaching Assistant) is somewhere between a student and a teacher; they have the required knowledge to help others with the subject matter at hand, but can explain it all in a way that their fellow students will understand. eNotes TAs will work in our Homework Help section, writing original answers to eNoters’ questions from around the world. Along with our team of real-life Educators, eNotes TAs will help to make Homework Help your top choice for expert answers and instruction provided in the clearest way!

To join this team you must be enrolled in school (high school or undergraduate) and possess an enthusiasm for learning and sharing what you’ve learnt.

In return, eNotes TAs will receive:

  • free premium membership to eNotes (unlimited access to our 250,000+ study guides, plus up to 5 Homework Help questions per day)
  • valuable resume or college application experience
  • special gift card rewards based on the attainment of pre-set goals

How to apply:

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the eNotes team, please submit your application to become a TA to jgardner@enotes.com. Make sure to include a little bit about yourself, your grade level, and what makes you a strong candidate for the TA program. We look forward to hearing from you!

Check back at eNotes.com later this Fall term to see our TAs in action!

What the $$$$ Just Happened to My Student Loans?!!

Paying for college is tough enough, but have you heard about the recent hikes in interest rates for student loans? Read on to find out how this affects you as either a current student or someone in repayment, plus how government officials plan to resolve the issue of crippling student debt.

As of yesterday, Stafford Loan interest rates doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%. Congress did not pass an alternative measure before the July 4th break, which will end at 2:00pm on Monday, July 8th. However, it still has the option to pass a measure that will retroactively affect the rise in interest rates, altering the Stafford Loan rates for this year’s students and perhaps others. This article will outline a few of the options Congress faces, what changes may be made, and how those changes might affect students with Stafford Loans.

Student Loans Crippling Many

Protestors advocate against increased interest rates.

What is a Stafford Loan and how does it work?

Stafford Loans are the most common kind of federal student loans available. They are available to students at accredited institutions

in the United States, a category to which most colleges and universities in the United States pertain. Stafford Loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. Of these, subsidized loans tend to have lower interest rates, and the federal government pays the interest that the loans accrue. Contrastingly, the interest that accumulates on unsubsidized Stafford Loans is capitalized, meaning that it is added to the part of the loan on which interest is paid.

Subsidized Stafford Loans are available to those who demonstrate financial need via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which must be renewed each year a student wishes to apply. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are available to all students who meet the Stafford Loan requirements, which can be found here.

In addition to Stafford Loans, the government gives out PLUS Loans, which are unsubsidized loans and in the past have had higher interest rates than Stafford Loans. PLUS Loans are available to graduate students and parents of students.

The Option Proposed by President Obama:

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16 Days of Summer

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eNotes’ editorial intern shares his tips of how to make the most of your high school summer. Or any summer, for that matter!

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan.  My grandma bought me the first book when I was 11, and from then on I read every book within the same week it was released.  My extreme anticipation and excitement for the release of the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, back in 2007 should be understandable then.  However, I was conflicted.  The release date for the 7th book was set for the end of July, which is far too close to the end of summer from a student’s perspective.  You see my dilemma.  As a typical high school student, I wanted the long carefree days of summer to last forever, however, I now had this exciting event to look forward to at the end of summer.  For the first time in my life, I was looking forward to summer ending.  This turned out to be the slowest summer ever.  My summer that normally felt like it was only 16 days long now felt like the setting of a slow-motion dream I couldn’t escape.  Ultimately, I became comfortable with the pace of that summer in 2007 and learned to enjoy my time and stay in the moment up until that long awaited release of the Deathly Hallows.

That summer was a stark contrast to a typical high school summer, which moves way too quickly and is filled with sobs of students during the final weeks.  The days meld together and may begin to pass you by.  Let’s take a look at some tips to ensure that you’re making the most of your summer and emerge into the next school year after a productive and fun vacation.

1. Break it down.  You have two and a half months ahead of you with no academic obligations.  Plan your summer by answering these basic questions which will provide an outline for your time ahead: 1. What will I do with my time?, 2. What are my obligations?, 3. What will be fun?, 4. What will be beneficial?

2. Travel.  One of my biggest regrets of high school is that I considered leaving my street to be “traveling”.  Travel and learn to be comfortable making your own decisions, being your own boss, and not having your mother force you to clean your room.  You will gain experience, confidence, and surely return a changed person.  More importantly, you will be better equipped to handle college. And anyways, girls like well-traveled men (and vice versa).  If a trip outside of the US isn’t plausible, spend a couple days in a neighboring city.

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