The 5 Big SAT Changes You Need to Know

satHigh school freshmen and sophomores will take a new version of the SAT in 2016. Here’s a run-down of what they can expect and how to prepare.

Last month, we covered in depth what you could expect from the new SAT coming in 2016 (in a post you can read here). But now that the changes to this 88 year-old exam are making the media rounds once more, we wanted to take a quick minute to recap the biggest adjustments, and hopefully provide some clarity in the process.

So, here are the 5 big changes to come to the SAT in two years’ time:

  • No more SAT essay! The essay section will become optional
  • No more “SAT words!” The test will quiz students on “relevant” words instead of obscure ones
  • No more point deductions for incorrect answers! Which means no penalties for guessing
  • Fewer questions! The test will shrink from 171 to 153 questions (52 in reading, 44 in writing and language and 57 in math)
  • And lastly, the 1600-point system will return making the 2400-point test a mere blip in the radar for a select few

But before you jump out of your seat with joy, future high school junior, you should read our in-depth analysis of the changes and how they’ll affect your test-preparation here. Just because $5 SAT words are out, doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn strategy to handle unfamiliar vocabulary. AND just because the SAT essay will be optional does not mean you shouldn’t take it.

sat act

In essence, the SAT is going to look almost identical to the ACT, so the best way to prepare for these changes is to look into its counterpart. In fact, more and more colleges regard the ACT as equal to the SAT, though students tend to score better on the former than the latter. Which leads one to wonder, why are we still placing so much emphasis on the SAT? Our advice: take both and go with the test you’re better suited to.

Have questions about either standardized test? Or thoughts on the changes? Leave us a comment and we’ll help you with your test-prep!


eNotes Presents Students of Change Series: The Social Media Do-Gooder

“At 24 years old having 61,000 followers on Twitter, people always ask me if there’s something profound I did to make that happen and my answer is always no. I just showed people that I cared.” – Emily Thomas

In our new blog series, we’re interviewing students and recent graduates who have taken their studies and done something profound with them. Some are doing great work at home, while others have traveled to far off destinations to help communities in need. Whatever path they’ve chosen, these inspirational Students of Change prove that being young and recently graduated are never hindrances to doing what you want to do.

Take the subject of our first interview for example, Emily Thomas. Emily is 24 and just recently graduated from Seattle University. Her writing has been featured on Huffington Post and she’s currently involved with a number of PR projects, the biggest of which is #standwithme, a campaign for a documentary about the issue of child slavery. She’s a social media guru with upwards of 61,000 followers on Twitter. We at eNotes believe that she exemplifies the ideal eNoter through her upbeat attitude and never ending quest for knowledge. Read on for your daily dose of inspiration.

You’re a self-proclaimed do-gooder, what does this mean to you and what led you to aspire to this identity?

standwithme1I got the phrase “do-gooder” from one of my favorite quotes by Minor Myers which is “go into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good.” While being an established writer and successful social media strategist is important to me, I always remind myself that true success comes from two things: doing something that makes you happy and doing something that makes the world a better place than when you found it. The truth is that we aren’t going to live forever, but we have the ability to forever make the world a better place by choosing our actions wisely.

Before I embark on any social media campaigns, I ask myself if it’s a project that I feel is going to make a difference in the world. What I have found from working on projects like #standwithme and Snap2Live is that my ability to use social media strategy helps companies tell their story in the best way possible through cyber space. I know that my efforts with these two projects are affecting more lives than just my own. Read the rest of this entry »


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!


16 Days of Summer

harry

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


Survivor: Finals Edition

Our top 10 study tips to help you survive dreaded finals week.

meet the parents 3You’re going out on a date tonight.  It’s with someone you really like.  You’ve been looking forward to this for several months.  But there’s a catch!  You have to meet your date’s parents first.  You really would just rather avoid this ordeal and get straight to enjoying the night with your companion, but it’s something that just must be done.  On top of this, you know that you should do it WELL if you want to feel good about it.  So you grin and bear it, put on as charming a face as you can and meet those suckers.  It’s never as bad as you played it out in your mind, and once you’re done, you feel like a million bucks.

This is exactly how finals are.  That date that you’ve been looking forward to is SUMMER.  And those intimidating parents that you have to meet are your finals!  Finals are a daunting obstacle to finishing the school year and beginning your treasured summer days, just as meeting your date’s parents was an obstacle to enjoying your night.  In both cases, students make way too much of a fuss than necessary.  I think I’ve told myself every finals week in college that I wouldn’t be able to get everything done and that I would fail a class.  I also remember doing everything I could in high school to prevent meeting my girlfriends’ parents.  These scenarios are much more intimidating in our minds than they are in reality.  The only way to get through these obstacles is to grin and bear it.  Once we’ve done that and taken care of business, we feel like kings.  Let’s take a look at some tips that can set you on the right track to nailing those finals and sitting upon that throne.

Read the rest of this entry »


Your Major Isn’t All that Major

Yippee! You’re going to COLLEGE!

You’re probably getting hours and hours of sleep because you don’t spend any time at all mulling over all the new, unknown, big, scary things that come bundled up in that word ‘college.’ No, you haven’t started thinking about your future or your career or what all that means for your next four years. You haven’t started thinking about leaving home (if you are), either, or leaving your friends. You’re dandy. You’re just great. You are so excited. Genuinely amped. Ready to go. You feel like you just want to give everyone high fives.

Except, that’s not true at all. That’s actually laughable.

I know, you know, we all know that you are also (and I am definitely understating this): scared out of your wits. You’ve got the heebie-jeebies—those annoying willies. Your stomach is essentially a butterfly conservatory. You spend a lot of your free time exclaiming things like: “WHAT IS GOING ON?” Or… “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO WHEN I GROW UP?” But mostly… “AHHHHHH.”

Yep.

Guess what? You’re normal.

This is normal.

College is a huge adjustment. Somehow, though, all of us college-goers come out alive, smiling, and never wanting to leave. So be soothed. This will be the best time of your life.

Now, I know my words of wisdom won’t actually be heeded at the moment, so I won’t keep spouting nostalgic, reflective, awesome statements about college.

What I will do is give you some tips on how to gain appropriate perspective on your undergraduate education. We’re going to talk about (dun dun dunnnn…): YOUR MAJOR.

Hear me when I say: YOU WANT TO READ THIS.

It’s okay to change it. Multiple times.

Some of you know exactly what you want to study, maybe what career path you want to go down. You’re pretty sure you’ve got it all figured out. If you’re nodding your head right now, this piece of wisdom is for you: you may be surprised.

Some of you will keep on that initial path. You’ll start taking classes in your particular major, you’ll enjoy it, you’ll sit in the front row, hang out with your professors in office hours, and you’ll just keep on keepin’ on until you graduate.

Some of you, though, will find that you don’t actually like what you thought you would. You’re bored, you’re confused, you’re sleeping (and snoring) in class, and you just aren’t that into it. For you guys, and for those who start off college undeclared, I implore you to feel comfortable and at ease trying new things until something fits. You do it when you shop, you can do it when you study. You wouldn’t buy an extremely expensive outfit without trying it on first, would you? So why buy an education (which is, you know, sort of pricey) without trying some stuff out first? Think about it.

Some of you might be worried about what “other people” will think. I want to tell you that no one will judge you if you change it up a bit. They will actually praise you for caring about the education you are getting (who’s the cool kid on campus now?). As long as you monitor your units, requirements, etc. throughout your college career, you should have no problem. Have no fear, you are not alone! Counselors can help you with this process, too!

It doesn’t define your career.

Oh my goodness, what did she just say? THAT IS BLASPHEMOUS!

I have a lot of friends who want to be doctors. They’ve taken their pre-requisites for medical school, sure, but do you know how many of them are actually majoring in things like physiological sciences, biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, etc.? Practically none. Many have picked majors like history and English. The same goes for some of my friends who chose to go to law school.

Your major matters because hopefully it reflects your interests. Hopefully, you are studying something you really want to be studying. That may or may not lead to a career in that field. You may even (like my aspiring-doctor-buds) get the chance to study two subjects (Wow!). I changed my major three times (almost four…no shame), am currently studying psychology, and don’t intend to be a psychologist. Nuts, right? Your options are endless.

The main point is…

Don’t let yourself be scared by the constricting appearance of a word like ‘major.’ It’s not going to constrict you unless you want it to and you let it. With enough determination you can always pull strings here and there and maneuver stealthily through your undergraduate experience to create whatever experience you want. Honestly. Just look at college as a time to figure out what really makes you tick- what you really want to spend time learning about. Maybe you will be inspired to continue that study later on in life, and maybe you won’t. There’s nothing wrong with either of these situations.

So take the leap, step into the unknown, jump into the ocean, let your spirit fly!

(That got excessive fairly quickly…my bad.)

Point is: try new things, explore a little bit. You’ll be better than fine.

I promise.

Okay, okay… I pinky promise.


Tips from the eNotes Intern: Getting Over the Post-Winter Break Blues

Here at eNotes, our intern evidently doesn’t pull any punches. Following are the straight up facts about the post-winter break blues (aka ‘WAA’) and how to overcome them with this six step program, straight from your fellow student’s mouth:

WINTER BREAK IS OVER.

Ouch. That sort of hurt, didn’t it? I do apologize, I just thought saying it out loud might make it easier to comprehend. For many of us, our winter holidays are coming to an end. If you’re like me, you are now trying to piece together memories of what life was like before vacation, and it’s a very sad business. You have adapted to days filled with holiday celebrations, friends, family, the couch, copious amounts of cookies, home-cooked meals, the couch, your bed, blankets, and more couch time. Now, I don’t know about you, but adapting to that lifestyle took me all of three seconds. So why is it so hard to snap back into the “student” life we’ve been leading for practically all our years? The way I see it, there are three phases most of us go through.

  1. The Wallowing Phase
  2. The Acceptance Phase
  3. The Adapting Phase

Let’s make an acronym out of it: “WAA.” WAA is the process by which the average student adjusts to reality after enduring a highly enjoyable, relaxing vacation. The first phase (Wallowing) is characterized by irritability, anxiousness, complaining, heightened laziness (the laziest you’ve ever been), and prolonged sleeping. The second phase (Acceptance) is characterized by, well, acceptance. You know that you have to go back to school and normal life, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now, I didn’t say you were necessarily happy about the situation, but you’ve become accustomed to the idea. The final phase (Adapting) is where you take steps to get used your student lifestyle again. Now, as a student who has seen many winter break transitions, I am a master of the WAA, especially phase 3. I thought I’d give you a few tips for getting back into the swing of things. They’re real, they’re awesome, and they’re coming at you in list format:

  1. Make a list or two: Time management is one of the most beneficial skills you can learn. Sometimes, keeping track of things is really difficult. There’s a pretty decent chance you’re a little flustered right now, seeing as you’ve been thrown right into the craziness of school all over again. With so many things to take care of (assignment due dates from here until June, exams, quizzes, projects, and all the aspects of your daily, personal lives as well), you’re quite right to be a little flustered. How are you going to get it all done and when? Whenever I feel this way, I make lists. Lists and lists and lists. They really work, and all it takes is a piece of paper and a pen (you can use some sort of iPhone app if you would like to, but I prefer the old-school format). Here’s what you do: write down a list of all the things you have to do. Just get it all out of your head and onto the paper. You can leave it just like that, if you’d like, or you can organize it further by due date, class, or some amalgamation of the two. Then when you complete a task, guess what? You get to cross it off. Believe me, it feels awesome. Not only can you see everything you have to accomplish very clearly in front of you, but you can also really feel and see yourself getting things done. So make a list, it can’t hurt!
  2. Create a routine and do your best to stick to it: Routines are really helpful for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they give you a clear idea of what your day or week is going to look like. You can become accustomed to the pattern so that certain things you don’t necessarily enjoy very much (say, exercising or studying for example) can be accomplished with much more ease. There’s a certain invisible accountability you feel to the routine. You can’t let it down! And once it becomes habit, it’s easy as pie. Routines also help with time management. Having a relatively set schedule makes it easier to know when you will have free time to accomplish certain tasks. You’ll feel charged and on track, ready to take on the day.
  3. Set realistic educational goals: Now I’m not saying you have to make a commitment to study eight hours a night. We have to be realistic. You could, for instance, give yourself the goal of finishing a term paper a week in advance, so you will have more time to study for finals at the end of the term. You might achieve that by doing little segments of the paper throughout the semester, or by blocking certain chunks of time for uninterrupted work on your paper. Any kind of goal, no matter how small, can really help propel you along this academic rollercoaster. Graduation, degrees—those can all seem very far off. If you can give yourself a goal that seems closer in proximity and feels more attainable, you will undeniably feel more motivated in the academic setting, and in your life in general.
  4. Be active: Yes, your bed is comfortable. Yes, your favorite TV drama is on. Yes, Facebook might as well be your desktop background. It’s nearly impossible to avoid all these things, especially when coming back from a vacation. It’s almost as if we’re being sucked in. One of the best ways to beat the winter break spell, then, is to fight back. We don’t always realize how lethargic we’ve become. Fighting lethargy and doing some exercise or even partaking in hobbies—anything to get you moving—will increase your energy. I mean, endorphins, right? You’ll be a happier camper if you’re up and about and moving around. The activity feeds off itself and you will find yourself doing more and more without thinking about it. You’ll stop counting the steps it takes to get from your bed to the refrigerator and instead use your legs willingly and excitedly. You’ll feel more alive, and subsequently, feel like you can take on the entire world. Yes, the world is your oyster.
  5. Remember why you’re really in school: Hey, be excited! You’ve been given this opportunity to learn at the hands of different professors and teachers, and you are getting something out of it. Even if you can’t appreciate it now, you know that deep down you really want to be here, and that you’re acquiring something invaluable by participating. You are getting an education that is going to help you create the future you want, whatever that may be. That is something to feel grateful for.
  6. Take a deep breath: Just do it. It will always help. Inhale, then exhale, slowly. Now smile, and go to class. You’re probably already late.

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