New SAT Reasoning Test starts next month!
The new SAT test will come on stream from the March 2016 administration, and is significantly different to the old version. Kate Treatman-Clark (Harvard College Class of 1996) has studied the new test and has written this article outlining the changes.
In summary, the structure of the new SAT is as follows:
- 1 evidence-based reading and writing section
- 65 mins reading
- 35 mins language and writing
- 1 maths section
- 55 mins with calculator
- 25 mins without calculator
- 1 essay section (optional)
- 50 mins – must analyse a document
- Overall – fewer questions with greater focus on in-depth analysis of content and evidence
Although the SAT essay is now optional, note that many top colleges (including Harvard) still require you to take it. The same is true of the ACT essay, so applicants should always take ‘ACT with Writing’ to ensure they complete the essay section along with the rest of the test.
For further information on each of the sections, read Kate’s full article. She concludes that the take home message about getting good SAT/ACT scores remains the same:
- Take both practice tests and go with whichever gives you the better score.
- A good score is one that fits the profile of the colleges you have selected.
- Consider test dates, the location of your nearest test centre, the availability of places and PLAN AHEAD.
- Familiarity with the test is the best way to boost your score, so make use of the free online practice tools (see below).
- If your test scores don’t reflect your potential, consider one of the test flexible colleges (e.g. NYU, Hamilton, Middlebury) or test optional colleges (e.g. Clark, Connecticut College).
Meet the new SAT! Go to this page on the College Board website to familiarise yourself with the new SAT.
Free online practice tools are provided by the Khan Academy.
Upcoming SAT dates and deadlines (33 UK test locations)
|SAT Date||Registration Deadline|
|7 May 2016||8 April 2016|
|4 June 2016||5 May 2016|
Upcoming ACT dates and deadlines (16 UK test locations)
|ACT Date||Registration Deadline|
|9 April 2016||4 March 2016|
|11 June 2016||6 May 2016|
Types of Financial Aid
Last month we gave you some tips about how to research the US college system to identify a short list of colleges that you might want to apply to later this year. An essential element of the research process is to find out which colleges provide financial aid to international students, and if so, how much you are likely to be awarded.
This is the most common type of aid so is usually the first port of call for families on modest or middle incomes. As the amounts awarded by different colleges vary from year to year, you should check the websites of all your short-listed colleges to find out if you are eligible for financial aid, and how much you might receive. By law, every college website must have a ‘Net Price Calculator’ that will estimate the annual cost of a college education based on your family’s current financial circumstances. Click here to see an example.
When to apply: you should apply for need-based financial aid at the same time as you submit your application, since an offer of financial aid, or lack of it, will have a significant effect on whether you accept any offers of admission you are sent by the colleges. You therefore need to receive any offers of financial aid at the same time as the result of your main application.
Colleges that are unable to provide every student with access to need-based aid often provide merit-based aid for strong academic performance, or a particular talent in sport, the performing arts or other extracurricular involvement. As funding is usually reserved for top students, your SAT/ACT test scores should be well above those of typical students admitted to the colleges where you will be applying. To help you to assess your performance in comparison with others, the percentage of admitted students who achieved particular scores is shown on all college websites.
College sport is massive in the US and universities are keen to attract the best players, particularly for their varsity teams (premier league teams that play in organised inter-college competitions). Unlike academic scholarships where students simply submit an application to the college, the process for applying for sports scholarships is long and complicated. Click here for the Fulbright Commission’s detailed article on sports scholarships and the athletic recruitment process.
Some scholarships are also awarded based on specific personal qualities outlined by the university or an individual donor or sponsor. These qualities often correlate to the mission of the organisation or interests of the donor and could include country of origin, ethnicity, religious faith, interest in a particular field, gender, interests and talents.
Some niche scholarships are quite strange. One of particular note is the Gertrude J Deppen Scholarship Fund, designed for students who ‘do not habitually use tobacco, alcohol or narcotics, and are not involved in strenuous athletic contests.’ It is only available to students who graduate from a particular US High School. I have no information about how often the scholarship is awarded!