Monthly Archives: February 2012

28 Feb 2012

SAT Score Choice: What is it, and how do I sign up?

What is SAT Score Choice?

SAT Score Choice is a free service that allows students to select which SAT scores they send to colleges. Each time a student takes the SAT, the scores for each test are kept as separate records. If a student sits for a test more than once, he/she can use Score Choice to decide which scores colleges see.

Note: Selecting Score Choice means that colleges will see all section scores (Math, Critical Reading, and Writing) from a given administration. Score Choice does NOT allow students to select & send only their highest sections from multiple tests.

What are the benefits of using SAT Score Choice? 

SAT Score Choice was designed to reduce performance anxiety and exam-day stress. Let’s say Benny took the SAT in January, May, and June, but bombed the May administration. With Score Choice, Benny can send only the scores from January and June–effectively sweeping May’s shortcomings beneath the proverbial rug. If you’re someone who tends to choke under pressure, Score Choice may be a good option because it means that one bad test won’t scar your college application. With this in mind, you can relax on test day and focus on the exam, instead of worrying about how you’re doing.

What do colleges think of Score Choice? 

Some colleges don’t mind it, while others prefer to see every one of a student’s test scores. Please refer to pages 5-39 of this official College Board document to see where your top choice college stands.

The College Board does not notify schools if a student is using score choice, so it’s up to each student whether he/she wants to comply with a college’s requirements. Students should be cognizant, however, that including your high school code when registering for the SAT means your guidance counselor will gain access to all of your scores. Thus, colleges that don’t endorse score choice can contact high school officials to find out if a student reported all required scores.

How do I sign up for Score Choice?

As long as you didn’t sign up to automatically send scores to colleges when you registered for the SAT, you will be able to use Score Choice. It is important to note that you can only use Score Choice AFTER your SAT results become available online. This means that you will need to pay for each score report sent to colleges.

To use Score Choice:
1. Head to:
2. Log into your account using the “My Organizer” box on the left side of the page
3. Click the “SAT Scores” tab
4. You will see something that resembles this:
1/28/12: Available
Sent to: 0 Recipients <– hit this link!
5. Retype your password for the security check
6. Click the “Send Available Scores Now” link under the “My Scores” section of the page.
7. A pop-up will appear. Hit “Send Additional Score Reports”
8. Enter the name of the college and any additional information, then press “Continue”
9. In the page that follows, click “Choose Scores” to activate Score Choice.
10. Check the boxes next to the scores you want to send. Press continue.
11. Enter payment information. You’re done!

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Cognizant: Aware

21 Feb 2012

Creating Your First Resume: A Tutorial

Looking for your first job or internship? Then you’ll need to create a strong resume to display your skills and impress potential employers. In this blog entry I will discuss why creating a resume as a high school student is important, and provide some tips and suggestions to help you do so.

Why Create a Resume as a High School Student?

Few high school students realize the usefulness of creating a strong resume. A resume is a summary of your achievements and qualifications. It’s a professional snapshot–kind of like a FaceBook profile, but directed toward a different audience. When applying for your first job or internship, you can use your resume to help you stand out from the crowd, as a resume lets you  include information not requested on most applications. A resume is also neat & easy to look at, refreshing against swarms of messily-penned applications picked up at the prospective place of work.

OK! I’m convinced!

But… If I’ve never had a job, how do I create a resume??

If you’ve never had a job as a high school student, not to worry! Most high school students haven’t. As long as you’re applying for an entry level position, you will not be expected to have previous work experience. There are many other things to include on your resume. If you have, however, had a job before, be sure to include this information!

What to Include:

There are four main sections on every student resume: Contact Information, Education, Experience, and Activities/Interests.

Contact Information

Includes your name, address, telephone number, and your e-mail address.

— Should go on the top of the page

— Make sure you have a professional and appropriate e-mail address! Nobody will hire you if your e-mail address is!


 — This should come next, as school is ostensibly your first priority and primary occupation.

— List your school & its location, your expected graduation year, and your GPA if it is 3.0 or above.

— You can also include your class rank, scholastic awards/achievements (have you been on the honor role?) and your SAT or ACT scores if they are high.


Mamaroneck High School, Mamaroneck, NY, Diploma Expected June 2013
GPA: 3.5/4.0; Received honor roll recognition 2009-2010, 2010-2011
SAT: 700 Math, 660 Critical Reading, 680 Writing


— If you have previous work experiences, list them here.

If not, describe your extracurricular activities and/or volunteer work.

— You can even list involvement in one-time events, such as food or clothing drives, and fundraisers.

— Use action verbs to describe what you did in these experiences. Here’s an example, with action verbs in bold:

Mamaroneck High School Food Drive, Coordinator, April 2010
Promoted event with posters and announcements
Raised over $700 cash donations
Distributed over 800 non-perishable items to targeted populations


— Here you should list activites and hobbies where you don’t hold a leadership position. Write only what the activity is, and the years you’ve been involved in it. For example: Piano Lessons, 2002-Present

— When you’re finished with your resume, be sure to have a friend or relative look it over for accuracy, typos, as well as spelling/grammar mistakes. Good luck landing your first job!

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Ostensible: outwardly appearing as such; apparent; evident

16 Feb 2012

SAT Grammar: Spot dangling modifiers to score more points!

Whenever you see an introductory modifying clause on any SAT Writing section, your grammar antenna should start freaking out. Why? Chances are these questions are testing something very specific… something I itch to divulge.

What is an introductory modifying clause? An introductory modifying clause modifies the subject of the sentence’s main clause. For example:

Thrilled with her scores on the SAT, Alison quickly began working on her application to Harvard.

Here, the underlined portion of the sentence is the introductory modifying clause, because it modifies, or tells us something about, Alison. Because the introductory modifying clause describes Alison, “Alison” must come immediately after the comma.

Let’s take a look at a level 5 question from an actual SAT:

Prized for their brilliance and durability, people will spend thousands of dollars on high-quality diamonds.

  • (A) Prized for their brilliance and durability, people will spend thousands of dollars on high-quality diamonds.
  • (B) Prized for their brilliance and durability, thousands of dollars are spent by people on high quality diamonds.
  • (C) Prizing them for their brilliance as well as their durability, thousands of dollars can be spent by people on high quality diamonds.
  • (D) Prizing the brilliance and durability of high-quality diamonds, people will spend thousands of dollars for them.
  • (E) Prizing high-quality diamonds for their brilliance and durability are what makes people spend thousands of dollars for them.

Even though the entire sentence is underlined, you should immediately recognize that “Prized for their brilliance and durability,” is an introductory modifying clause. Thus, you need to ask yourself: what is this clause describing?

Answer: High-quality diamonds.

Well, self, does the phrase, “high-quality diamonds” come immediately after the comma?

Answer: No, the word, “people” does. How ridiculous! People are not praised for their brilliance and durability!

Normally, we’d improve this sentence by searching for the answer choice that correctly places “high-quality diamonds” beside the introductory modifying clause. For this level 5 question, however, we’ll need to alter the modifier, itself. Take a look a the answer choices. For each, you’ll need to look at the introductory modifying clause, ask yourself what it is describing, and double check that the subject of the modifier comes immediately after the comma. When you’ve selected an answer, hit the link below to see if you’re correct.

Answer and Explanation

14 Feb 2012

Taking the SAT: What to Expect on Test Day

Getting ready for the SAT? You’re probably wondering what to expect on test day. Since I recently took an official SAT, I wanted to share my experience. We hope this information helps to calm your nerves!

Breakdown of the Test:

The SAT has 10 sections: 7 25-minute sections, 2 20-minute sections, and 1 10-minute section. The first section is always the essay, and the last section is always writing. The schedule of sections and breaks should be as follows:

Section 1 (The Essay) (25 minutes)
Section 2 (25 minutes)

5-minute break. You can leave the room to eat, drink & use the restroom.

Section 3 (25 minutes)
Section 4 (25 minutes)

1-minute break. You can stand up and stretch, but you cannot leave the room.

Section 5 (25 minutes)
Section 6 (25 minutes)

5-minute break. You can leave the room to eat, drink & use the restroom.

Section 7 (25 minutes)
Section 8 (20 minutes)
Section 9 (20 minutes)
Section 10 (Writing) (10 minutes)

What to Expect Immediately Before, During, and After the Test

— You must arrive at your test site by 8:00 am, but it is not necessary to arrive earlier. When you arrive at your test site, check-in and find out what room you will test in. Someone may tell you this, or you may be directed to locate your name & test room on a posted list. Following this, you will stand on line while test officials check each student’s admission ticket and photo ID.

Tip: Read a newspaper article or look over your essay source notes while you wait on line. This will help you ready your mind for the essay, which always comes first.

— Once your admission ticket and photo ID have been checked, head to your test room. You may be assigned a seat, or you may be allowed to choose. If you’re allowed to choose, try to get a seat in front and where the clock is clearly visible.

— Expect some time to pass before the test actually starts. Your proctor will likely wait 15-30 minutes for all testers to arrive before double checking photo IDs.
Following this, you will bubble in the required information on the answer sheet as a class.

— Do NOT rush ahead. Getting scolded for filling in your address too soon will only spike distracting emotions, like stress and shame.

— Make sure your cell phone is turned OFF. Better yet, leave your cell  phone at home or in the car. Proctors are required  to enforce a zero tolerance policy on cell phones, which calls for score cancellation if your phone rings or if you are caught using it. You may NOT turn your phone on during breaks and you cannot use it as your timer.

— During the test, proctors are supposed to write the start and stop time for each section on the board. Some proctors will announce when 5 minutes are left in each section, but they are not required to do so. Best bet is to bring a (silent) watch and keep time, yourself. Occasionally, your proctor will circle the room to make sure everyone is working on the correct section.

— Try not to get restless during the final, 10-minute section. Even if you finish this section early, you will still need to wait until time is up before you can leave. Rumor has it, some proctors will begin collecting completed tests before time is called. If this happens, try not to feel pressured or distracted if you are still working.

Testing should end between 12:30 – 1 pm. Sentia officially recommends you go out for lunch or treat yourself to some well-deserved R&R. Congratulate yourself–you’ve just completed a major milestone on the pathway to college & beyond!

09 Feb 2012

Is your FaceBook page killing your chances for college admission?

When I was in high school, social media was the realm of the young—invisible, or so we thought, to anyone older than 25. Kids loved to show off their weekend adventures drinking, smoking, or otherwise intoxicated. Profile pictures were hot. Frequently, social media was used to boost social status and bully the “unpopular”.

Social media is fun because it allows us to connect with friends and control the image of ourselves that others see. However, college admissions officers may have different ideas from your friends about what is funny and cool. As more adults become social media savvy, high school students must learn to keep their Internet-selves in check.

Take the gifted, 17 year-old cornerback, Yuri Wright. Ranked the 40th best recruit in the country by ESPN, Wright was recently expelled  from Don Bosco Preparatory for posting sexually graphic statements on his twitter. Although Wright had long dreamed of attending the University of Michigan, the school stopped recruiting him when admissions officials learned of his account.

Wright recently accepted a scholarship to the University of Colorado, which shows that limitless talent can overcome even the grossest transgressions of propriety. Still, the incident taught Wright that he needs to work hard moving forward to prove his character. Wright recently started a new twitter account with clean, upbeat content appropriate for the public eye.

All of this is to say that the Internet must be approached as a public place, and that social media accounts may be monitored as part of the college admissions process. So, as you write your essays, prep for tests, and gather recommendations, bear in mind the importance of presenting yourself professionally online.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors:

Transgression: violation of a law; command; etc.
Propriety: appropriate behavior

07 Feb 2012

Are Standardized Tests Still Important?

Recently, the New York Times revealed that Claremont McKenna College, a highly regarded California school, has reported false SAT scores to publications like U.S. News & World Report for the past 6 years. For the September 2010 freshman class, Claremont McKenna’s median score jumped 10 points–from 1400 to 1410–and the 75th percentile score of 1475 was reported as 1510. Small bumps, but enough to rank Claremont McKenna #9 in the U.S. News & World Report’s widely followed college rankings.

The revelation of the deception must be humiliating—especially considering that academic dishonesty is higher education’s most heinous crime. So, why would an already prestigious institution risk its national reputation for a few measly SAT points?

The scandal shows the crucial role standardized test scores play in public perception of a college’s prestige. And, as long as high scores = high rankings, colleges will continue to select students based on test performance.

What about the growing number of test-optional schools? Doesn’t this suggest the phasing out of standardized tests? According to Fair Test, more than 800 schools don’t require SAT scores for admission! True, but many test-optional schools spend thousands to purchase the names of high scoring students. As Janet Lorin for Bloomberg News explains, The College Board sells these names to over 1,000 schools—among them, such prestigious test-optional institutions as Bowdoin and Smith—for 33 cents apiece.

All of this casts unequivocal doubt on test-optional schools’ commitment to looking past standardized test scores. While test-optional schools may allow some highly capable students to work around poor scores, the schools still believe that standardized tests reveal student aptitude and skill. Accordingly, Lorin reveals that between 60 and 80% of applicants to test-optional schools submit their scores.

Though they certainly don’t reveal everything, test scores actually aren’t empty. As one member of College Confidential put it, “The SAT measures developed reasoning skills. The extent to which you can develop these skills depends on your IQ.” Although tons of students score lower than their intelligence should allow, there is some foundation to the use of the tests. Test scores help colleges compare students from different high schools, which can vary greatly in size, rigor and competitiveness.

Knowing this, we can assume that the SAT & ACT will continue to impact admissions decisions, at least until we come up with a decent alternative to standardized tests.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Heinous: abominable, evil, or atrocious
: having only one possible meaning or interpretation; unambiguous, clear

02 Feb 2012

Expert Test Tip: Strong Goals = Strong Results

Imagine that you’re at a train station, and you see an unlabeled train that you think is heading in the right direction, but you’re not sure. Would you board it, potentially riding it for all eternity, and never arriving at where you want to be?

Strangely, this is exactly what many test-takers do when it comes to preparing for the SAT (or the ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.). They study blindly, only thinking that their studies will move them in the right direction of improvement. But, like the riders on that unlabeled train, their path is fated toward the antithesis of glory: failure, the tragic fate of the goalless.

One of the best pieces of advice for achieving anything, whether it be running a marathon or getting your perfect test score, is to set a goal. A goal is, of course, the end point of your path, the final destination of your metaphorical train ride. We already talked about your starting point (when we discussed the need for diagnostic testing), and with an end point in mind, you’re just connecting the dots. Thus, when you set a good goal, you’re putting yourself on a trajectory to success; you’ll have a path to follow, namely the line that connects your starting point to your final goal. But, of course, not just any goal will do. Your goal needs to be specific to you. Heed this advice to set the perfect goal.

First, Find Your Starting Point

We’ve said this practically a billion times now, but it bears repeating: take a diagnostic test and find out where you are.

Figure Out What Score You Need

Open up a college guide, and find out what scores last year’s admitted students got on their SAT and ACTs at your dream colleges. Your goal score should be a score in the same range.

Set a Specific Goal

But don’t just aim for a goal that is within a certain range. Rather, set a specific number. Vague goals lead to vague results, so don’t merely aim to improve by some ambiguous point in the future; rather, aim for a specific score by a specific date.

Make the Goal Realistic

A perfect score overall is probably not going to happen. But a perfect score for you is possible, so long as you’re willing to do some hard work. As a general rule (remember “general” means it works for a lot of students but is not guaranteed to work), you should be able to improve by about 10% of the difference between your baseline score and a perfect score, per month of focused study. For example, let’s say a student scored 1600 on his/her SAT diagnostic and has three months of study time. The difference between 1600 and a perfect score is 800 points, so that student should be able to improve by about 80 points per month to score around 1840.  A hypothetical student starting at 2100 with two months of preparation would be able to improve by about 60 points total (30 points per month). Either student would ideally set a goal just above that so that both students had something even higher—though still realistic—for which to strive. The first student should aim for a 1900, and the second student 2200.

Obviously, this is somewhat subjective, and you’re a much better gauge of your abilities than is anyone else. So remember to think of how much time you can devote to studying for the test and what seems realistic to you.

Keep Checking in on Your Goal

Finally, with your goal made, write it down, and keep thinking about that number. Eyes on the prize, right? More than that, though, keep re-testing yourself to see if your train is still on track to your goal score. If it’s not, reevaluate your study plan.

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Antithesis: the direct opposite of something
: path taken by a projectile
: pay attention to
: lacking clearness or definiteness

01 Feb 2012

Celebrity SAT Scores: How do yours match up?

Few celebrities disclose their SAT scores, but those who do may surprise you! How do you match up?

Natalie Portman

Photobucket Actress Natalie Portman reportedly scored in the 1400s on her SAT. Of course, Portman’s supreme score comes as no surprise since she also skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode 1 to study for her high school final exams. In 2003, Portman graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Psychology, which she famously explained by saying: “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” Wise words, pretty lady!

Bill O’Reilly

PhotobucketBill O’Reilly, a political commentator best known for his FoxNews Show, The O’Reilly Factor, scored 1585 (wow!). After graduating high school in 1967, O’Reilly attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Will Smith

Photobucket Rumor has it Will Smith got a perfect score and a full scholarship to MIT, where he didn’t even apply. The Fresh Prince, however, humbles his story. On his admission to MIT, Smith states, “I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college.”

Bill Gates

Photobucket Bill Gates, former CEO and co-founder of Microsoft, earned a 1590 on his SAT. Of course, this comes as no surprise, since Gates revolutionized computer technology. In 1974, Gates famously dropped out of Harvard University to start his company alongside his 1600-scoring partner, Paul Allen.


Photobucket International pop sensation, Ke$ha reports a “near-perfect score” on her SAT. In high school, Ke$ha explains, “I was this weird paradox of a person. I was in the marching band, and I played music in a really cool punk band with the hot seniors, and I’d write bratty pop songs.” Ke$ha further reveals that she used to audit Cold War classes at the local college, “just for fun.” Nevertheless, crazy Ke$ha never went to college, instead opting to exclusively pursue music.

Bill Clinton

Photobucket The 42nd president of the United States scored a 1032—12 points above average—on his SAT. Still, Clinton excelled at Georgetown University, where he majored in Foreign Service and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Later, Clinton attended Yale Law School and earned a Juris Doctor in 1973.

George W. Bush

Photobucket Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush is known to have scored a 1206. Bush attended Yale University and majored in history. In 1973, Bush earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He is the only U.S. president to have earned a M.B.A.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Cataclysmic: terrible, tragic