Registration Deadline Reminder! Sign up for the SAT and ACT!

As summer is fast approaching, we at College Compass wanted to remind you of the upcoming SAT and ACT test dates!

SAT Test Date Regular Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
5/7/16 4/8/16 4/22/16
6/4/16 5/5/16 5/20/16

You can register for the SAT exam here!

ACT Test Date Regular Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
6/11/16 5/6/16 5/20/16

You can register for the ACT exam here!

Continue reading “Registration Deadline Reminder! Sign up for the SAT and ACT!” »

UPDATE 2: 2016 National Merit Semifinalist Cutoff Score for Texas – NEW ESTIMATE

Based on an analysis of nearly 10,000 students, Testmasters has updated our prediction for the National Merit Semifinalist cutoff score in Texas to be as high as 219.

To understand how we got this number, you first need to understand how the National Merit Scholarship Corporation determines who gets to be a semifinalist. Every year, approximately 16,000 students become National Merit Semifinalists. Every state in the country is allotted a number of those 16,000 students proportional to the number of graduating high school seniors in that state. They then “fill in” that allocation starting with the students from that state with the highest scores. The lowest score in that allocation is the National Merit Semifinalist cutoff score for that state.

Distribution of NMSQT Selection Index, TexasUsing new data from roughly 10,000 Testmasters students and other students who took the PSAT in Texas, we reproduced this process. We know from historic data that of these 10,000 students, approximately 60 will become National Merit Semifinalists. Applying that number to our data, we have revised our estimate of the National Merit Semifinalist cutoff for Texas to be as high as 219.

Picture3Our previous estimate of 217 was based on linear regression done on the concordance tables released by the College Board and historical cutoff scores. This new estimate includes 10,000 students – a sampling of Testmasters students and beyond – and is more accurate because it’s based on real, actual scores from students who took the new test and have scores using the new selection index. Even though the cutoff score is higher, the number of students who will become National Merit Semifinalists stays the same.

But what about the sliding-scale estimates?

They were our best guess before the concordance tables came out. We update our estimates when we receive new data.

What does this mean for other states?

It’s important to note that this data is only representative of Texas and cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the cutoffs of other states. However, what the 219 shows us is that our concordance table estimates are in the right ballpark–though we won’t know for sure until August/September.

Please note that this post is an update to previous posts on the topic. You can find those previous posts here:

UPDATE: What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016?

What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016?

Testmasters produces more perfect SAT scores and National Merit Semifinalists than all local competitors combined. Learn more about our SAT & PSAT course options here!

What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016?

UPDATE 2: We have added an additional estimate for Texas’ cutoff based on new data. You can find that post here.

UPDATE: Many commenters have asked about College Board’s Concordance Table. You can find an estimation that incorporates the Concordance Table here.
Now that PSAT scores have been received, the question that most people want answered revolves around the cutoff scores for National Merit Semifinalist standing. In other words: What is the minimum score that will qualify me to be a National Merit Semifinalist? This is certainly an immensely significant cutoff, mainly due to the benefits and scholarships that come with being a National Merit Scholar. The 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists from the class of 2017  will be notified sometime in September. As you eagerly await this announcement, here is some context for determining how close your score might be to the cutoff (and which side of it you may find yourself). These are the qualifying scores for each state from the past several years (note that each state is different): Continue reading “What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit in 2016?” »

Identifying the Duke Talent Identification Program

By now, most 7th grade students selected for the Duke Talent Search have already taken the qualifying ACT or SAT exam. As you wait for College Board to report back scores, you might be wondering “what exactly is Duke TIP? What does it mean for my student to have been selected as part of this program?”

As a former Duke TIP participant and long-time employee of the program, I’m here to elucidate what exactly Duke TIP is and what exactly you’re entitled to if your student is selected.

Continue reading “Identifying the Duke Talent Identification Program” »

What to Expect on the Revised SAT: Math

SineCosineAnimationThe College Board claims that the Revised SAT Math will “require a stronger command of fewer, more important topics.” Considering that I personally managed to get two liberal arts degrees without ever having to demonstrate my ability (or lack there of) to solve problems using the trigonometric functions that I forgot immediately after the Calculus AP exam, I don’t know exactly how the College Board determines what topics are “more important,” but the test does seem to be shifting away from its more logic and reasoning based math in favor of problems that involve applying what a student would learn throughout high school math (possibly, dare I say it, more like the ACT).

Specifically, the revised version of the test appearing in March of 2016 will evidently cover four content areas: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics in Math (“Heart of Algebra”? “Passport to Advanced Math”? real cute, College Board). Another big difference is that the test will now be split into a fifty-five minute calculator section, and a twenty-five minute no-calculator section. Yes, you’ll be assessed over your ability to math without that handy contraption that maths for you—how unfair! Between the two sections you’ll have a total of fifty-seven questions: forty-five multiple choice, eleven student produced responses (grid-ins), and one “extended thinking” question (two-part grid-in). Continue reading “What to Expect on the Revised SAT: Math” »

What to Expect on the Revised SAT: Reading

Feel like you have to translate SAT passages? We can help!
Feel like you have to translate SAT passages? We can help!

The Revised SAT Evidence-Based Reading (that’s a mouthful) will include five(ish) passages: one Literature based passage, two History/Social Studies passages, and two Science passages. Similar to some passages on the current SAT, one of the passages in the Science and/or Social Studies fields may be replaced with a pairing of shorter, related passages, and both topics will include one or two related graphics that a few questions will refer back to. All in all, you’ll have 65 minutes to do fifty-two passage-based questions and ZERO sentence completion problems. There will still be vocabulary-based questions in the passages, but they’ll focus more on your ability to define a word in the context of the passage. Additionally, a new type of question will test your command of evidence. Continue reading “What to Expect on the Revised SAT: Reading” »

The SAT Shape-Shifts Again!

We can help with your questions about the SAT's new mutations!
We can help with your questions about the SAT’s new mutations!

OK, since the revision of the SAT is a pretty major topic in college admissions right now, I probably didn’t have to use a crazy title to get you to read about the New SAT, but how else was I going to fit Mystique into a blog post?

YES! If you hadn’t heard, the SAT is changing March of 2016. We know what you’re thinking, Class of ’17: “Why me? WHY NOW?!” But don’t get too stressed out! You might even like some of the changes they’re making. For instance, you’ll no longer be penalized for wrong answers, and they’re doing away with that pesky sentence completion. And never fear! We here at Test Masters are here to help guide you through the transition! In this post, we’ll get our feet wet with some of the overall format changes. Continue reading “The SAT Shape-Shifts Again!” »