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Parents’ Guide to College Admissions

Most commonly asked questions for Top Test Prep (Part 1):

What’s a “good” SAT or ACT score?

A good SAT or ACT score depends on which college or university you’re applying to during the admissions season. If you’re GPA is great (3.7+) and you score above the median SAT or ACT range of a University (Example, Harvard University at 2250 SAT Score), you’re chances of admission obviously are solid. However, if your GPA and SAT score are well below the median, you should aim to improve each SAT (or ACT) section by 10% or more. This means if you’re scoring between a 1900 and 2000 on the SAT, aim to improve each subject by 80 to 90 points. Think gradual improvements. A perfect SAT and ACT score takes time – and you need to prepare yourself with test prep or private tutoring that works for your schedule.

How many times should I advise my son or daughter to re-take the SAT exam?

As many times as they feel comfortable. Even with the new SAT reporting rules which allow greater student flexibility, you shouldn’t expect a score increase simply by re-taking the exams. Instead, get the private tutoring you need to improve your scores.

How many colleges should I apply to?

On average you should apply to roughly 3 to 4 “safety” schools, 5 “middle ground” schools”, and 3 reach schools. This averages out to roughly 10 to 12 colleges. Do your research on college admissions or let us help you with admissions counseling to make sure your college applications are perfect. We’ll help you figure out which schools you should apply to based on your background, SAT and ACT scores, and general interests.

What’s the best college in America?

This is a subjective test – it’s like asking which Coffee tastes the best. Focus instead on the quality of education at each school, the academic opportunities and then which college offers the academic programs you’re looking for overall.

When should we start saving for our kid’s college education?

You should begin saving the moment your child is born. Set up a separate savings account for your child that factors in a reasonable return on investment. Balance your investments wisely and watch your returns grow and your chances of affording a college education increase. Remember, it’s extremely important to begin saving for your kid’s education now – as colleges are increasing tuition at a rate greater than inflation.

How can we prepare for the college interview?

The best way to prepare for a college interview is to practice with friends and family. Ask tough interview questions that probe the interviewee’s character and desire to attend X university. For example, instead of asking “what interests you had in high school – ask “what exactly does Stanford (or any college) offer that an Ivy League doesn’t. Other questions like, “what would your friends say about you if we called them and asked them to describe you as a person…”. These are better college interview questions.

Where can we find a private tutor?

Simple question, easy answer.

FYI: More college admissions questions to follow…stay tuned.


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