UC Application Essay Questions Stay the Same for Fall of 2015

Prompts for the UC personal statements remain unchanged for prospective students applying in the Fall of 2015.
Summary of the UC application personal statements
A summary of the UC application personal statements.

As summer slowly comes to its end, upcoming high school seniors begin to think about their college applications and how they’ll set themselves apart from other students. One way to stand out from the crowd is through the personal statement(s).

This year’s UC essay prompts

Those who will be applying to the University of California (UC) colleges will be glad to hear that the essay prompts this year are the same as the ones from the previous year. The first essay prompt is: “Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.” And the second essay prompt is: “Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?”

Students may get a head start and work on their statements now. They must keep in mind that both essays must add up to a maximum of 1,000 words total and it is recommended that each essay be at least 250 long.

For more information about the UC application personal statements, visit the official UC admissions page about personal statements.

College Board SAT Practice App–where is it?

Summary: The College Board “SAT Practice App” is not yet available for download; it is scheduled for launch in September, 2015. (Source)

Photo of a student's hand filling in multiple choice bubbles.

If you have the new College Board SAT prep book, you may have noticed that there is now an option to score your test electronically using the College Board SAT Practice app.

However, if you follow the link to sat.org/scoring (found on the new answer sheets), there is as of yet no mention of this app. More confusing–a search on the iTunes App Store reveals nothing, either. (The closest thing is the SAT question of the day app.)

So, how to download the SAT Practice App?

So what’s up with the app? And what will the app do? Well, it appears that the app will allow you to take a picture of your practice exam and grade your test using the resulting image. Khan Academy has also said that they hope to continue development on the app so that it integrates with the SAT prep program that they are offering with Collegeboard. However, for this app we will have to wait:  The College Board has said that the app will not be available until September 2015.

Free repeat of SAT in October for June test-takers

Summary: If you took the SAT Reasoning Test in June of 2015, you are entitled to a free retake of the SAT in October, 2015.
College Board announced that students who took the misprinted SAT on June 6th, 2015 are eligible for a free retake of the test in October 2015.

In response to the recent misprint in the June 6th, 2015 official SAT exam, the College Board has offered a free retake of the test to those who were affected by the error. The College Board has decided to “[waive] the fee for the October SAT administration” after they received numerous calls from upset students and parents about the timing mistake. The testing company has yet to specify how students can register for the free retake, nor whether students will have the option to nullify their June scores.

Hanaki Sato, a rising senior at George Washington High School, says that the College Board is being “very responsible.” But at the same time, she doesn’t “know what else College Board could’ve done about [the error].”

While it’s good news that students have another chance at tackling the SAT, they also need to be careful not to take the test more than three times, which is often the recommended number of attempts for the exam. The additional attempt may or may not affect students negatively, so it’s best for them to contact the colleges of their choice to make sure taking the October test doesn’t hurt their chances of acceptance.

College Board’s official response: https://lp.collegeboard.org/information-regarding-the-saturday-june-6-sat-administration

June SAT-takers–your test scores will NOT be canceled

Problems on Sections 8 or 9 of the SAT last Saturday
Problems on Sections 8 or 9 of the SAT last Saturday have prompted College Board to nullify scores from the affected sections.

An additional five minutes spent studying for a test may not seem like that big a deal;  an additional five minutes spent on one of the most important, timed college entrance exams for U.S. colleges, on the other hand, has led to the nullification of part of almost half a million SAT tests.

On Saturday, June 6th, 2015 students all around the world sat for the official SAT. The official SAT booklets all contained a significant misprint–in the students’ test booklets, Section 8 or Section 9 (depending on the version of the test), incorrectly allotted 25 minutes for students to complete those sections. The correct time allotment of 20 minutes, however, was written on the proctor’s script and manual, which created confusion for the test takers as well as the proctors.

One student from George Washington High School recalls that some of the test takers in her room worked on Section 9 during the 25-minute period for Section 8, due to different versions of the test, because they “all wanted equal time” and that the proctor “went with it” since he wasn’t sure about the situation either.

Students and families were also confused about whether or not their scores would be affected by the mistake. William Ju, a student at TestMagic, says, “My family [was annoyed]. They kept asking if the deletion [would affect] me negatively or positively.”

One student from Long Island, New York went as far as to sue the College Board and the Educational Testing Service for the mistimed sections of the SAT. She is charging them for alleging breach of contract and negligence and claims that there was monetary damage to those who took the misprinted exam. The nonprofit organization has yet to provide a response about this case.

College Board’s official statement regarding the printing error originally said that the mistimed sections, Section 8 or Section 9, would not be scored; however, as of June 18th, the company decided that neither sections will be scored–regardless of which version of the test the student took. Defending the quality of the SAT, College Board stated, “We have deliberately constructed each test to include three equal sections with roughly the same level of difficulty. If one of the three sections is jeopardized, the correlation among sections is sufficient to be able to deliver reliable scores.”

The final scores are still valid and can be sent to college for consideration, but after receiving many calls from upset students and parents about retaking the test for free or receiving a refund, College Board is agreeing to waive the fee of the October test for those who were “negatively affected by the printing error” and who register by September 3, 2015.

College Board’s official response: https://lp.collegeboard.org/information-regarding-the-saturday-june-6-sat-administration

The Redesigned SAT (2016): An Overview

Studying for the SAT
Summary: The SAT will change significantly in the spring of 2016. These changes will affect high school students of the class of 2017. Students should strongly consider taking the ACT in addition to the SAT and see which they perform better on. Some (but not all) important changes include: The types of questions will change. The essay section will be optional (but always check with colleges to see whether they require the essay). The new SAT will have a “no-calculator” section. The scoring will change from a maximum of 2400 to a maximum of 1600 (as it was before the 2005 changes). All students taking the new SAT should be familiar with the U.S. Declaration of Independence and other “founding documents.” See the Official College Board page for the 2016 SAT for more information.

If you’re planning to attend college in the United States in the fall of 2017 (or later), there’s a good chance that you’ve already heard that the SAT will undergo significant, even radical, changes in two years’ time.

TestMagic is keeping updated with all the changes, and we will keep all of you updated. Right now, there are not too many details available, but here’s an overview of what College Board has announced:

  • The graduating class of 2017 is affected. These students will have to take the 2016 SAT (unless they take the current SAT in the fall of their junior year or earlier).
  • A computer SAT will be available in certain places. This change is more significant than it may at first seem to be!
  • The PSAT given in October 2015 will reflect changes to the SAT
  • There will be three sections on the new SAT:
    • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW for short)
    • Math
    • Essay (“optional;” see more below)
  • The verbal sections will require analysis and will include a wider variety of material and types of writing.
  • The math will reflect real-world situations.
  • The new SAT will be approximately three hours long; the “optional” essay will be 50 minutes long. (Exact times have not yet been decided–research on optimal times is still being conducted.)
  • There will be a “no-calculator” math section on the 2016 SAT
  • No more deductions for incorrect answers! So on the new test, be sure to answer each question.
  • Essay will be “optional” in theory
  • Vocabulary will be a bit easier and less esoteric. Two words mentioned that could appear on a future 2016 SAT: empirical and synthesis. Examples of words that we conjecture would not appear on the new SAT: pusillanimouspulchritude, and fulsome.
  • Scoring goes back to 400-1600 (200-800 for each EBRW and Math), with a separate score for the essay (No official mention of whether the essay will still be scored on a 0-6 scale)
  • Each new SAT test will include questions about the “Founding Documents,” such as the American Declaration of Independence or discussions of these documents.
  • Free SAT test preparation will be offered through a collaboration between College Board and Khan Academy

College Board has announced that it wishes to make the new SAT more realistic and more aligned with what students learn in school and do away with the more “puzzle-like” sections of the test. Overall, the math should reflect real-world problems and situations that people encounter and the verbal sections will cover a wider range of topics and subjects and will now require more analysis than previous SATs did.

Studying for the SAT
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamieleroy/

So, why the changes? In the world of testing, there has been a long controversy over standardized tests and whether they are fair. Over the decades, many of the best-known admissions tests (such as the GRE, the GMAT, and the TOEFL) have become more realistic in their content. For example, in years past, the TOEFL (a test of English proficiency) included dialogues recorded by actors. Now in their place, the test has recordings of real conversations that people have. The SAT itself discarded the analogies (DOG is to PUPPY as CAT is to ???) in 2005, but retained the “sentence completion” questions (Isaac was quite ——-; rarely did he call attention to himself.).

In the coming weeks, we will address the changes to the SAT thoroughly and will keep all of our students and their parents updated on the changes so that they are ideally prepared to apply to college.

In the meantime, please leave a comment or a question!

UC Personal statement prompts for Fall 2013

School is still in session in many parts of the country, and high school students are probably thinking more about what they’re going to do over the summer than they are about their college applications in the fall. But it’s always good to think ahead and starting planning.

The University of California has just announced that the prompts for the UC personal statements will not change for the Fall of 2013. What does this mean for you? Well, if you are a rising high school senior (class of 2013), and you’re planning to apply to the University of California, that means you’ll be writing on the same topics that last year’s applicants wrote on.

So, what are the prompts? In a nutshell, there are two prompts (paraphrased—be sure to check the official UC website for exact instructions):

  • Describe your “world”, your life, your upbringing, etc., and how all of these influences have affected you, your goals, and your dreams.
  • Describe something special about you—a talent, ability, accomplishment, experience, etc.

As I mentioned above, these prompts are unchanged from previous years, so there are no surprises here—the UCs still want to know about you, your life, your “world”, and something special about you. This will give you the chance to talk yourself up a bit and explain anything special you’ve done in your life.

I’ve helped hundreds of people with their application essays, including the essays for the UCs and will be writing about how to approach writing these essays in the future. So stay tuned!

Read more: UC personal statements prompts for 2013

Last chance! Sign up by the end of May (2011) for the last early-bird promotion

Colored PencilsOur last discount expires soon! As you may recall, every year we’ve run a promotion to encourage people to sign up for our SAT summer courses early. Many of our classes are already full or almost full, but we’re still offering a discount for people who sign up by the end of May. It helps us, and it helps you save money. So, a quick reminder–our early bird discount on SAT Prep courses ends on May 31, 2011. When it’s over, it’s over. Contact TestMagic now before the spots run out.