Blog

03 May 2021

The Importance of AP Exams

With all the standardized tests out there, AP exams are often underappreciated in the grand scheme of the college admissions/preparation process. 

High AP scores can be a strong differentiating factor in your overall application, especially when applying to top tier schools.  AP scores have the potential to demonstrate that you are pushing yourself to take the most rigorous coursework available to you and are capable of handling college-level material.  Of course, every college wants to see that you are challenging yourself, but more importantly, the types of critical thinking skills you develop in taking these courses are precisely the sort of techniques you will need to succeed in your first year of college.  

Beyond the admissions process, AP classes can be instrumental in determining your course load in college.  More and more colleges are granting credit for AP scores (this even includes credit for a score of 3 on an exam, depending on the school) and there has also been a wider range of subject areas accepted by schools.  

AP scores can ultimately save you time and money — whether that be allowing you to skip Intro to Econ or get credit for a course requirement entirely — your scores are bound to help you during your time in college in one way or another. It is also important to note that you can take an AP exam without having taken the course itself.  If there is a subject area you feel confident reviewing on your own, you have nothing to lose by seeing how you do on the exam! Who knows — that $94 test could ultimately save you $1,800 to $3,000 by counting toward a three credit college course or, at the very least, allow you to skip some introductory courses/requirements, freeing up your schedule to take the courses you actually want to take sooner.  

I can say from my personal experience matriculating at an Ivy League school that having a full semester’s worth of AP credit ensured that I graduated on time. My alma mater required a rather high number of credits to graduate, and despite taking a full load each semester, I came dangerously close to not hitting the full number of credits I needed.

If you are worried about low AP scores, don’t be! Advanced Placement scores are by no means a make or break factor in the admissions process. You can always withhold or cancel a score (you just have to make sure you request this by the appropriate deadline).  You can also retake an AP exam the following year in May if you are unhappy with your scores — you just need to make sure you cancel the low score before the deadline so it can be removed from your record.

All in all, getting a high score on the AP exam proves to colleges that you are extremely well qualified for the rigors of college academics while also making you that much more prepared for the high-level analysis and reasoning that college classes require. 

It might not seem like it now, but trust me: knowing how to make document inferences for APUSH, write thoughtful rhetorical analysis responses for AP Lang, or design an experiment that could be used to reject the null hypothesis for AP Bio are all essential skills that will position you to be a successful college student. 

Emily Eckert, Education Associate

31 Mar 2021

Managing Your Time in the Age of Covid

It has been a strange and devastating year, with rippling effects in nearly every part of our lives. One such effect has been a complete reimagining of how students attend school. For students who struggle to manage their time – indeed, for most students – hybrid and remote learning have presented serious challenges. Their schedules alone can be incredibly confusing; I have a student whose classes switch between live and asynchronous, remote and in-person. All of these classes have both homework and asynchronous classwork. For even the most organized student, keeping a schedule like this straight and managing all of the work can become overwhelming.

Beyond the logistics of keeping schedules, classwork, and homework straight, there lies the very real challenge of spending hours a day learning on Zoom, Google Meet, or some other remote learning platform. Having myself completed a teaching certification in July that required me to be on Zoom for seven hours a day for three weeks, I know first-hand how draining this can be.

So what can students do to make all of this easier?

I have my students write out a daily schedule, in which they clearly map out every hour of the school day. This helps them to keep track of their live classes, and it also helps them to block out time for asynchronous classwork. If a student does this at the beginning of the week, they can lean on this schedule to guide them through each day; it eliminates the energy spent on the guesswork of “where am I supposed to be now? What am I supposed to be doing?” Getting in the habit of creating a schedule also sets students up for success down the road. Many students struggle when they enter college because the combination of more free hours and heavier workload requires some top-notch time management skills. If a student has started implementing these skills in high school, it sets them up for success.  

Another tip is to encourage students to write out their daily schedules on paper or in a physical planner, rather than on their phones or in Google Calendar. Working on a written schedule provides a nice break from screens, and there’s something satisfying about physically crossing tasks off of a list.

Lauren Singerman, Director of Tutoring

25 Mar 2021

Reading Your Way Through the SAT & ACT

Back in June, we put together several reading lists for students looking to bulk up on their summer reading. But did you know that reading is actually an excellent way to prepare for the SAT or ACT? Or really any test for that matter! Let’s break down the test sections and see how strong reading skills will give you a leg up on every part of the ACT or SAT… 

English, Writing, and Reading

Of course, strong verbal skills will serve you well on the Reading and Writing Sections of the SAT and the English and Reading sections of the ACT. While it may seem that the English and Writing sections are mainly focused on grammar, punctuation, and syntax — not purely reading comprehension — strong reading skills are still essential to success. Many of the Writing questions require you to wade through long, convoluted sentences and then determine how the sentence might be improved. If you have lots of practice reading complex material in any context — from novels to articles to nonfiction — you will have a much easier time of understanding these passages. The errors may even begin to jump out at you! 

Math 

The application of your reading skills to the Math sections of the SAT and ACT are certainly less intuitive, but equally important! The vast majority of math problems on these exams are not purely testing your mastery of mathematical concepts. Even the most straightforward problems are accompanied by text, some of which can be translated into mathematical notation if you are able to decipher what the problem is telling you. In the case of a word problem, this might look something like translating a paragraph into a system of equations. These problems — the ones that require you to read through a lengthy chunk of text before getting to the mathematical objective — can feel especially daunting. With strong reading comprehension skills, not only will these questions feel more manageable, but you will also be able to breeze through them with plenty of time on the clock. 

Science

Similar to Math sections, the Science section is full of scientific graphs and charts, but the bulk of the passages are paragraphs describing an experiment or situation. What skills will serve you best in distilling down and picking out the essential information? Your reading skills, of course! Basically, the Science section is a glorified Reading section: read the passage, synthesize the information, and answer questions about the material provided. Don’t be intimidated by the graphs and charts, they’re only there to help you! 


Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to squeeze a little more reading time into your busy schedule. It will pay off not only in your test prep endeavors, but in whatever academic pursuits are on the horizon. Check out our post on Reading for SAT & ACT Preparation and while you’re at it, take a look at our general Reading Suggestions. Happy reading! If you’re looking for additional academic or test prep support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. As always, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!

10 Mar 2021

ACT At-Home Testing Update

Back in November of 2020, ACT alluded to the imminent release of an online, at-home testing alternative for students struggling to take the ACT in person due to COVID-related barriers. However, ACT recently announced — definitively this time — that an at-home test will not be rolled out this year.

ACT CEO Janet Godwin notes that between extensive research and collaboration with partner organizations, ACT has “laid the groundwork for remote proctoring, but more development time is needed to launch an accessible, secure, and customer-centric option.” ACT cites their commitment to “equitable access to remote proctoring” as the reason for the delay, as they work to ensure their remote proctoring options suit the needs of students and institutions alike. 

In the meantime, both ACT and the College Board are striving to keep students as up-to-date as possible on test center closures, which have disrupted testing schedules throughout the past year. Students can register for the April 17th ACT test date through March 12th (late registration runs from March 12th – March 26th). If cancellations occur between the date a student registers and March 26th, students will be able to request a change at no cost to them through their MyACT portal. At Sentia, we have many students, particularly those located in California, who have experienced closures and opted to sign up to test at centers several hours from home where seats are available. Though these solutions are not ideal, given that remote proctoring will not become an option this year, those who are eager to include test scores reflecting their academic abilities with their college applications may need to travel (safely) in order to take the ACT or SAT. 

ACT is also ramping up their notification practices to ensure that students are notified promptly of any test center closures that affect their testing plan. Students can expect to receive an email notification if there is a test center closure, if ACT moves them from a closed or at-capacity test center to an open test center, and when test scores are released. 

As for the College Board, keep an eye on this SAT Test Center Closings database if you have plans to take the SAT in the coming months. Additionally, we recommend that students contact their SAT testing centers directly to confirm that they are still open. The College Board will continue to contact students directly if their chosen testing centers are closed, but it would be best to get out ahead of this and reschedule if necessary, in case there’s a delay in the College Board contacting those who have been affected by test center closures. 

We know that last-minute testing disruptions and closures can be overwhelming. We want to help ensure that your testing experience goes as smoothly as possible. If that means finding a new testing location, formulating a test prep plan, or working through testing strategies, we are always happy to help. At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way.

04 Mar 2021

Embracing Small Wins

It’s a tricky thing, embarking on standardized test prep. So many students and their families have voices in their ears, bombarding them with widely varying opinions regarding how to do it “right.”

“She’s going to need to meet with a tutor twice a week for a full year to come even close to the score she needs.”

“My son takes a practice test once a week! It’s the only way to do it!”

“No 8’s and 9’s on the ISEE? Forget about applying to any decent schools.”

These opinions can come from friends, family members, admissions counselors, tutors…anyone who has been through the process and considers themselves an expert.

Here’s the thing, though: the tests are standardized. Students aren’t. A student is not a number on a score report. And the number on the score report isn’t the final say in admissions.

After many years as a tutoring company administrator and tutor for various standardized tests, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of managing expectations. And here’s what I know: if a student meets with a tutor once a week for a few months, is motivated and focused in sessions, asks questions, does their homework, and takes a mock test roughly once a month, that student is very likely to improve their score. That improvement comes from a combination of learning new material and new strategies, learning how to manage time, and becoming more comfortable with the format of the test. 

But what will that improvement look like? It’s not the same for everyone.

A student’s final score is almost always directly proportional to where they started from. If an ACT student comes into test prep having forgotten most of what they learned in Algebra, the priority will be to strengthen their confidence with those basic skills before moving on to more advanced math topics. And the speed with which they absorb and retain those skills will dictate how much more material is covered. If this student started with a 20 on the Math section of their first mock, and – within four months of tutoring – they’re up to a 25, that is a huge win in my book. Five points is quite a leap. Now, a 25 is not a 34, which is closer to what most students and their parents would like to see. But for that student, considering where they started, a 25 should be seen as a great accomplishment. It should be celebrated! 

Celebrating small victories is crucial to progress in the test prep process. Giving students permission to focus on small achievements boosts their confidence and motivates them to continue to improve. Focusing on what they don’t have or haven’t achieved can lead to frustration, a feeling of helplessness, and – therefore – diminishing returns. 

A tutor can set a student up for success with these small victories by working with the student to set reasonable goals. For example: answering the first 25 questions of the ACT Math section correctly on their next mock; writing down their own word choice for the synonym portion of the next ISEE mock before looking at the answer choices; really drilling the comma rules and nailing those questions on the next SAT mock test. 

In a process that can feel overwhelming and intimidating for many, setting realistic goals and managing expectations only sets students up for success. This idea has guided my work as a tutor and administrator for many years, and I think it has had a hand in helping my students to feel empowered and motivated in their navigation of the test prep process.

Lauren Singerman, Director of Tutoring

17 Feb 2021

Talking to Yourself: The Benefits of Subvocalization

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to studying — or focusing on any intellectually stimulating task, for that matter. Some people prefer a quiet atmosphere while others can focus with loud music blasting in the background. Others enjoy the ambient noise of a coffee shop while working (though coffee shop study sessions feel like a thing of the past). Recently, much attention has been paid to the power of spoken self-affirmation as a means of self-empowerment. Talking to oneself, either silently or aloud, can also serve as a cognitive and intellectual tool with the potential to increase motivation, emotional regulation, and have a hand in developing metacognition and reasoning. 

Subvocalization, also known as silent speech, is the internal speech that we typically employ while reading; it is the mechanism by which we silently say the sound of a word as if it were read aloud. Subvocalization is a natural process that helps the mind comprehend and remember the meaning of the material that is being read. Billy Wheelan, the founder of Sentia Education, often teaches subvocalization to his students and recognizes both its value and potential drawbacks as a studying and test-taking tool. 

Here’s Billy’s take: “Subvocalization can benefit test-takers in several ways: for the student who rushes, subvocalization provides a way to stay on pace. In the ACT Science section, it provides a mechanism for ensuring the test-taker is considering carefully which chart or graph she’s using as evidence — lest she accidentally reason a response from looking at the wrong source material. And while subvocalization slows most students down too much to be employed widely in passage-based reading, it’s a great way to unpack tricky sentences or paragraph transitions. Subvocalization really should be in every test-taker’s arsenal and it’s easy to practice on your own as you complete question sets or mock tests.”

By (silently) articulating ourselves, we are forced to pay more attention to crafting a cohesive idea or argument. For many, self-talk conjures up the image of an imagined listener or interrogator, pushing us to more critically examine our thoughts. Another fascinating offshoot of subvocalization is the tendency to move our bodies while thinking deeply or talking to ourselves. If you’re ever paced back and forth while thinking or talking something out, you’ve already employed this technique intuitively! 

Evidence shows that movement enhances our ability to think and learn. In fact, activities such as speaking aloud, writing, or dancing do not begin in the brain and simply trigger the body to move, as one might assume. Rather, these actions require both the body and mind to work together as an integrated whole, influencing one another. So, physical actions like moving the jaw as you silently talk yourself through a difficult math problem, for example, can enhance your comprehension of the task at hand. Don’t take our word for it — give it a try next time you sit down (or pace back and forth) to study, write, or simply think! And though talking aloud to yourself would be frowned upon on Test Day, no one will fault you for subvocalization. 


If you’re interested in learning more about our tutoring techniques, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. All of our tutors are well-versed in test-taking techniques that have helped many of our students reach their target scores. We are also passionate about providing academic support to students of all ages, especially during such a challenging time for students and educators everywhere. We are here to help. At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!

09 Feb 2021

2021 AP Exam Update

Now that SAT Subject Tests have been discontinued, all heads turn to AP exams. In the absence of Subject Tests, AP exams will be key for students who are looking to demonstrate their mastery of more specialized academic areas, beyond the scope of the SAT or ACT. AP exams in 2020 looked far different than years prior, as College Board was forced to create alternative modes of testing to accommodate COVID-related health and safety protocols. With the pandemic ever-present and 2021 AP exams fast-approaching, College Board has released final details on this spring’s AP exams after learning from the challenges of last spring. 

This year, there will be three test dates for each subject: 

Administration 1: May 3-7, 10-12, 14, 17 (exact date depends on the subject) – These will be available as a paper-based in-school test only. 

Administration 2: May 18-21, 24-28 –  These will be available as either paper-based in-school tests OR as online at-home tests.

Administration 3: June 1-4, 7-11 – These will be available as either paper-based in-school tests OR as online at-home tests.

The type of test (at-home online or in-school paper-based) and test date will be determined by the student’s school. The abbreviated, open note AP exams of last year have been redesigned to more holistically reflect the curriculum of each AP course. This year’s online AP exams will be full length, can only be taken on a laptop or desktop computer, and free-response questions must be typed. For more detailed and subject-specific information about 2021 AP exams, check out College Board’s official 2021 AP Exam Format Information. 

We understand how important AP exams are this year and how jarring it is to pivot from preparing for one test to another. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re seeking guidance on how to navigate the recent changes from College Board. We are always happy to help! At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!

29 Jan 2021

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone.

There is no denying that over the past year, our world has been subsumed — in many ways — by utter chaos. Whether you’re a middle schooler preparing to transition to a new high school, a junior studying hard for the SAT, or a parent balancing work and your child’s remote curriculum, it’s probably safe to assume that your stress levels have been higher than normal (if not through the roof). At Sentia, we are committed to providing holistic academic mentorship to our students, and a huge part of academic success is the ability to deeply engage intellectually while remaining emotionally balanced. Of course, we hope that all of our students are finding ample time to rest, take breaks, and eat a healthy diet, but we’d like to introduce a few more tools to the arsenal of strategies for combating rising stress levels. Check out (and please consider implementing) these tips for managing stress. Read on!

Indulge in distraction when you need a break. 

When you feel your anxiety level rising, take note and act accordingly: give yourself a break. Breaks are a tried and true way to reset your mind and body. Giving yourself a moment to simply breathe, go on a walk, catch up with a friend, or watch cute animal videos can have a re-energizing effect. When you sit back down at your desk after allowing your mind to wander, you are more likely to have the stamina to focus and successfully retain information. 

Perhaps this adorable video of a cat comforting a nervous dog will do the trick or maybe this live jellyfish cam will bring you a sense of calm. Whatever it is that helps you reset: indulge as needed. Taking breaks in not a weakness by any stretch; recognizing when your focus is waning and stress levels are rising is key. Having the tools to reset those levels is a great strength. 

Get up and move!

Short bursts of exercise can have a significant impact on your mood. Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, claims that just three minutes of exercise can improve your mood drastically. Dr. McGonigal suggests selecting a song that brings you joy and moving your body in a way that feels good to you.

Throw a one person dance party! Do jumping jacks. Spin around in circles. Do push-ups. Whatever it is, if you move your muscles and get your heart rate up, you will be rewarded with a boost of dopamine. Chances are you will feel more alive and energized when you get back to your studying, writing, or Zoom class.

Try five-finger breathing. 

This one is a Sentia favorite: five-finger breathing. When you feel your stress levels skyrocket, focusing on your breathing is always an excellent idea — but sometimes it’s not that easy. Five-finger breathing is a technique that guides you through controlled and even breaths. So, put down your pencil and follow these steps: 

Step 1: Hold your hand in front of you with fingers spread. 

Step 2: With your index finger on the opposite hand, begin to trace the outline of your extended hand, starting at the wrist and moving up the pinkie finger. 

Step 3: As you trace up your pinkie finger, breathe in. As you trace down your pinkie, breathe out. Trace up your ring finger and breathe in. Trace down your ring finger and breath out. And so on. 

Step 4: Once you’ve traced your entire hand finger by finger, reverse the process and trace from your thumb back to your pinkie. Be sure to inhale as you trace up and exhale as you trace down. 

Dr. Judson Brewer, director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University, has created a video explaining the technique, which we hope will help you engage and re-center your mind while crowding out worrying thoughts. 

Get outside!

It’s easy to spend the entire day inside when you’ve got your nose in a textbook, back-to-back Zoom lectures to attend, or a rigorous test prep regimen to adhere to. But, making time to get outside each day is crucial; spending time outdoors can result in meaningful improvements to mental health. Many studies support the notion that spending time outside surrounded by nature can spark physical changes in the brain that are associated with improved mood. 

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with wilderness close by, a walk in the woods during a study break might make your workload feel more manageable. If you live in an urban area, where’s the nearest park? Or perhaps a walk down a tree-lined street will provide enough of a nature fix to get you through the next chapter or lecture. 

We hope you are finding some semblance of normalcy, calm, and healthy productivity during these challenging times. If you are seeking additional support, we are always here to help. We would be happy to brainstorm with you more stress relief strategies that suit your learning needs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!

19 Jan 2021

College Board Ends the SAT Subject Tests

***This post reflects recently announced news and will be updated as more information becomes available.***

Today, College Board announced that it is eliminating the SAT Subject Test program. At Sentia, we had our suspicions that this change might be imminent; in the past several days our students have had difficulty registering for these exams on College Board’s website. In a closed webinar scheduled for today, we anticipate that the College Board CEO will deliver more details on the change. 

Additionally, the Essay section of the SAT will be eliminated. This change will be less profound for our students as most colleges have de-emphasized the importance of the Writing sections of both the ACT and SAT. Indeed, we anticipate that ACT will follow suit and likely eliminate their essay component in the coming 18 months. 

SAT Subject Tests have long been an important component of many of Sentia’s students’ application portfolios. While their demise – and the sudden rollout of these changes – will be distressing to some students, there remain several other means by which students who aspire to attend competitive colleges can stand out.

SAT and ACT scores will begin to hold more weight in the admissions process. With exceptional tutoring and sufficient tutorial planning, this change will allow our students to spend their preparation time focusing on one exam, rather than splitting time in the spring of Junior year between the ACT or SAT and two to three Subject Tests.

Grades, of course, become even more important when other components of an application dossier are eliminated. For most students, that means that judicious and appropriate academic support is more important than ever. Our teachers and academic mentors are well-equipped to ethically and efficiently ensure Sentia’s students are fully prepared to excel in their assessments – quizzes, exams, papers, projects, and take-home tests. 

What other ways can students stand out? At Sentia, we have long taken an approach that emphasizes academic mentorship, not just tutoring. After all, our motto is: At Sentia, we don’t just tutor; we’ll be with you every step of the way™. Our students work with their Sentia mentors to perform independent research papers ready for peer review, build inventions that win science competitions, start volunteer programs that transform lives, and learn curricula that far surpasses what’s offered at their schools. 


FAQs:

So, I can’t take Subject Tests?

Right. All Subject Tests (with the exception of the May and June 2021 administrations for international students) have been canceled. Students in the U.S. who registered for the May and/or June 2021 Subject Tests will automatically receive a refund. If you’d like to arrange for your fee to be credited towards a future SAT administration, you can contact College Board Customer Service at +1 (212) 713-7789 or sat@info.collegeboard.org

My dream school still says it highly recommends two Subject Tests. Wait, Georgetown still says it wants three!

Believe it or not, our friends at admissions offices at top colleges weren’t all given a heads up on this change. Students in the class of 2022 are likely to receive confusing information for a while. Will the tests you’ve already taken this year be evaluated as part of the admissions process? How about that Bio score from freshman year? The short answer is: we don’t know yet. Your scores may still be a part of your application or schools may go “test blind” on Subject Tests (meaning they will not look at them, even if submitted).

My child is homeschooled. Help!

Our homeschooled students who work with Sentia academic mentors and tutors will likely not welcome this news. SAT Subject Tests have long been a way for homeschooled students to stand out and demonstrate a wide range of deep knowledge. If your child is homeschooled, contact us so we can collaborate on a plan to ensure your child remains competitive in the admissions processes at top colleges and universities. 

My child goes to school in the United States and is applying to Oxford and Cambridge. What do I do?

Many students applying to schools abroad have used Subject Tests to meet application requirements. Some schools, such as Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, have long preferred AP exams to demonstrate knowledge. We anticipate that AP exams will become even more important – and perhaps required – in these admissions processes. If you aren’t currently planning to take AP exams, contact Sentia. We will likely need to revise your strategy.

My school doesn’t offer AP exams though. What do I do?

College Board’s elimination of the SAT Subject Tests will allow College Board to assign greater resources to its Common Core planning and thus its AP curriculum. For students whose schools do not offer most – or any – AP exams, this change is challenging. We regularly assist our students in registering for AP exams not offered at their schools as well as mentorship to supplement their in-class learning with the material necessary to excel on those exams. We anticipate that in the absence of Subject Tests, greater emphasis will be placed on finding ways for U.S. students to take AP exams. At Sentia, we are committed to working closely with our students to ensure AP exam access and comprehensive preparation. The deadline to register for a May exam has been pushed back to March 12th. Please contact us ASAP so we can help outline a plan for any student who would like to pivot from Subject Tests to AP exams. 

AP exams have, in fact, been on the rise as Subject Tests have become less widely used. We’ve seen this trend strengthen over the past 20 years. Take a look for yourself:

This focus on AP exams is the most notable change, perhaps more so than the elimination of a test that only the most competitive students completed. College Board will create (and, yes, sell) more AP exams than ever before. These exams will likely become vastly more important in the college admissions process and yet they are not offered at many high schools throughout the United States or globally. Our students who attend elite boarding and day schools that do not operate on the Common Core curriculum will need to find new and creative ways to demonstrate their knowledge. 

Do I need to take the SAT Essay if I’m signed up for the essay component? Should I skip the essay part? 

We do not anticipate the essay component will be a relevant factor in admissions decisions going forward. If you’d like to adjust your reservation to SAT without Essay, you should contact College Board to do so. 

Rest assured that we will work collaboratively with your family to ensure this testing disruption does not leave your child at a disadvantage. At Sentia, we remain as committed as ever to assisting our students and families in navigating the dynamic and ever-changing world of learning and testing. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns; we welcome the opportunity to provide your family with the individualized, professional guidance and support you’ll need in the wake of this change.

13 Jan 2021

ACT Computer-Based Test, US Rollout

We hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and enjoying the start of the new year! 

To bring everyone up-to-date on a bit of exciting news in the test prep world, the launch of the computer-based version of the ACT in the US is fast-approaching. Amidst the COVID crisis, computer-based testing has gained popularity and is quickly becoming the norm. Historically, ACT has been a trail-blazer in the transition to computer-based testing. In 2018, ACT transitioned international students from paper to computer-based tests (CBT). Now, the ACT CBT rollout in the US is imminent. We’d like to provide some information about how this changes the game for ACT test-takers and tips for ensuring a smooth transition to the CBT. 

Mastery of both content and format are crucial to success on the ACT. While the content and structure of the computer-based ACT will remain the same as the traditional paper version, familiarity with the new digital format will be essential before Test Day. 

Most notably, perhaps, is the introduction of several on-screen tools including a highlighter, answer eliminator (to cross out answers), answer masker (to hide answer choices in order to avoid distractions), line reader (to focus on a single line and block out surrounding lines), and magnifier (to enlarge part of a graph or image). Though students taking the CBT will not be able take notes directly on the test booklet, as is the case with the paper test, they will be provided with a separate whiteboard at the test center for notetaking and scratch work. Additionally, students taking the CBT will only see one question per page, which will make it slightly more challenging for students to answer questions out of order and make quick guesses at the end of a section.

We are confident that all of our ACT tutors are well-equipped to incorporate CBT strategies into their students’ test prep. We will continue to keep everyone updated as ACT provides a clearer timeline for the CBT rollout in the US. 

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns regarding test prep, academic support, or anything in between. At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!