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ACT, SAT & PSAT Test Prep

With two decades of experience clearing the path to optimal scores and making dream school acceptances a reality, Top Score empowers students with executive function training through the mastery of testing processes, application of reverberating mantras, and profound self-evaluation: the building blocks of Deep Learning.

Change requires trust and inspiration dictates improvement. The personal partnership with Top Score tutors catalyzes true evolution. As students gain confidence with each victory, they experience exponential growth. The positive feedback loop between trust and progression results in Deep Relationships.

The Top Score Test Prep Process

1

PLANNING

We start by figuring out the best time for students to prepare. This is more important in the initial planning process than which test they should take. When to prepare is all about time both in terms of the time the student has available for practice and preparation, as well as the students maturity level and knowledge of the math content. For instance, a student who plays varsity sports in fall and spring should probably prepare in the winter. A student who plays three varsity sports perhaps would be better off preparing early in the summer before junior year and testing in the fall (though this may put them at a slight disadvantage mathematically). Once we determine the best 4-5 month stretch for the student to prepare, we then proceed to the choice of test: SAT or ACT. And this is a combination of data, context and student preference. The data can be gathered from the PSAT and a practice ACT exam at the school, or practice exams with us at our test center. The context involves the student’s reading speed primarily. The ACT is a much faster test whereas the SAT gives you more time but the language and passages are more complex. Along the way, based on availability, test scores, test preference, location, and personality, we figure out the best tutor fit. So that all goes into our initial planning work: time, test and tutor. Can I answer any questions you may have about that stage?

2

PROGRAM

Our program can take place in a student’s home if that’s best for the student’s focus, or remotely via Google Meet if that’s best for the student’s convenience. Standard program runs 12 lessons, each two hours long, preparing a student for two test attempts over the course of 4 to 5 months. We target 7 lessons before the first exam, 5 more before the second attempt. The ability to super score the test, the familiarity students build from the experience, and the data we get back that can inform our program all make the two test attempt system a no brainer for us. Of course we can do fewer or more than 12 lessons depending on a student’s need and budget. Lessons are spaced 7-14 days apart, close enough to maintain momentum but far enough to allow homework completion between classes. Homework ranges from 2-6 hours a week, depending on the student’s particular situation (after school commitments, course load). We offer free monthly proctored practice exams at our test center in Arlington at Longfellow Middle School so students can practice the exam under those higher pressure conditions. For materials we use a combination of artificial intelligence driven math programs, proprietary original workbooks, and copies of official SAT/ACT exams. Can I answer any questions about our program setup?

3

PROCESS

Our process is based on three pillars: content, approach, and recognition 

  1. Learning the content: the SAT and ACT test students on 4 full years of Math Curricula, as well as an important set of foundational grammar skills. This material has to be reviewed, weaknesses discovered and explored, and new rules taught just as if in class at school.
  2. Approach: we teach a different process for each subject of each test, built to match the cognitive challenges of that subject. Like DNA, the tests have patterns and our approach lines up with those patterns to reduce errors on easy questions and improve accuracy on harder ones. For example, the more information our brains process, the less detail they notice. So for some subjects, where the devil is in the details, students must be forced through repeated process steps to break down information. 
  3. Recognition: beyond the basic approach for a particular subject, there is also the recognition of patterns with patterns. The Science preys on certain tendencies in certain question types, and those questions allows us to correct for those particular tendencies. In English, if we don’t recognize that a question is testing us on a certain grammatical rule, we won’t know to access that rule in our long term memory and leverage it! We encourage (sometimes force!) students to label questions by type and subtype to show they understand, and just as vital can recognize, the patterns. Other companies mention patterns and then review errors without ever ensuring a student understands what type of question they missed, how to best attack it, and most importantly for test day, how to recognize it when it comes back around in different context.
  4.  

Learning is
enhanced
through:

In-home and 1:1 learning structures with remote tutoring options.

Proven and motivational career tutors who serve as advocates.

Long term support at every step of the student journey from diagnostics to admission.

Transparency with no hidden or extra fees since partnership extends beyond an hourly rate.

FAQ

PLANNING: We start by figuring out the best time for the students to prepare. This is perhaps even more important than which test they should take. When to prepare is all about time both in terms of the time the student has available for practice and preparation, as well as the student’s maturity level and knowledge of the math content.

After we strategize as to what the best time is we look to see what exam is the best for the student. Once we determine t he best four month stretch for the student to prepare, we then progress on the choice of test: SAT or ACT.And this is a combination of data, context and student preference. The data can be gathered from the PSAT and a practice ACT exam at the school, or pr actice exams with us. Typically a student will take the diagnostic hybrid exam with Top Score Education shortly after or while we are defining timing of a program
The hybrid exam i s a diagnostic exam to determine what exam is best for the student. We offer free monthly proctored practice exams via zoom where your student can practice the exam under those higher pressure condition
For mat erials we use a combination of artificial intelligence software programs, math review books, proprietary original worksheets, and official SAT/ACT exams that have been released to the public. Currently we deliver these to your home prior to your first les son
Here is the li nk for the practice test info, which will remain always current and up to date while our exams are remote. Step – by – step Instructions can be found there, and you only need to fill out a form if you are self – proctoring. For testing live on practice test day via Zoom, just follow the instructions on the page. For Self – Proctoring you will see a link right near the top that redirects you to a separate list of easy to follow instructions.I advise bookmarking this link so you have it at hand for the duration of the program: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d – FGS6CBMcdrbgp – IEK5lMaWmPTpmyNycBNloNn2y2Q/edit
ypically we are an in home tutoring company prioritizing the needs of each student individually. We have transitioned to zoom to maintain that approach. Our program is crafted to help each stud ent thrive. To do this we focus on strengths and weaknesses and honing in on the weak areas to build them to strengths but also building strengths to advance the students expertise. Our individual approach is not to gain hundreds of points, but to build ov er the course of each lesson. Our 1:1 setting allows tutors to change lesson structure and focus to each student’s needs, which is impossible in a class. Our program differentiator is to individually ensure a student understands what type of question the y missed, how to best attack it, and most importantly for test day, how to recognize it when it comes back around in different contexts. As mentioned before, we engrain the methodology in our students minds so that on test day they are well prepared and c onfident. What is the SAT format? Do I have to take the essay? Can I guess? ○ Reading: 65 minutes, 52 questions. Writing (grammar): 35 minutes, 44 questions. Math (non – calculator): 25 minutes, 20 questions. Math (calculator): 55 minutes, 38 questions. Opti onal Essay: 50 minutes ○ Scoring: Reading: out of 40. Writing: out of 40. Math: out of 800. Take the Reading and Writing, add and multiply by 10 to get a score out of 800, which is your Verbal. Then Math + Verbal out of 1600. Essay is made up of 3 scores out of 8, for a total of 24 (Reading, Analysis, Writing) ○ Essay technically optional, but some schools require it, so it makes sense to take it at each test sitting. Essay does not impact the overall score, it is a separate score and most schools don’t value i t, but it will be a technical requirement for some schools. ○ No negative points for wrong answer

Our program generally takes place in the student’s home (depending on that home location). We also offer Zoom-based tutoring for students outside of our geographic service area. The standard ACT/SAT program is 12 lessons, each two hours long, preparing a student for two test attempts over 4 to 5 months. We target seven lessons before the first exam and five more before the second attempt. The ability to super score the test, the familiarity students build from the experience, and the data we get back informing our program make the two-test attempt system a no-brainer for us. Of course, we can do fewer or more than 12 lessons depending on a student’s need and budget. Lessons are spaced 7-14 days apart, close enough to maintain momentum but far enough to allow homework completion between classes. The homework ranges from 2-6 hours a week, depending on the student’s situation (after school commitments, course load).

Our process is based on three pillars: content, approach, and recognition

1. Learning the content: The SAT and ACT test students on 4 full years of Math Curricula, as well as an important set of foundational grammar skills. This material has to be reviewed, weaknesses discovered and explored, and new rules taught just as if in class at school.

2. Approach: We teach a different process for each subject of each test, built to match the cognitive challenges of that subject. Like DNA, the tests have patterns and our approach lines up with those patterns to reduce errors on easy questions and improve accuracy on harder ones. For example, the more information our brains process, the less detail they notice. So for some subjects, where the devil is in the details, students must be forced through repeated process steps to break down information.

3.Recognition: Beyond the basic approach for a particular subject, there is also the recognition of patterns with patterns. Within Science, what question types show up every exam, and how can we best approach those specific tasks. In English, if we don’t recognize that a question is testing us on a grammatical rule, we won’t know how to execute it. We force students, often against their will, to label questions, show they understand the patterns.

Speed: The ACT is a faster test, by far. Students who have fast processing skills and are fast readers tend to do better on the ACT, which is more straightforward, less wordy, less subjective than the SAT. If you have accommodations for extra time, ACT is virtually ALWAYS the better test, because you get 5 hours for the multiple choice, it is self-paced so you can “steal” time from your stronger subjects or breaks and give extra extra time to weaker subjects.

Math: ACT covers slightly more advanced math and a broader range. SAT asks deeper questions about fewer topics, more verbal and lengthy in nature.

Science: Both have elements of Science, ACT has a separate Science section, but that section is focused on data interpretation and not true science facts. A strong Science student should have an advantage, but fast processing and data analysis is more impactful to the final score

School counselors apply for SAT accommodations however, it is likely that the counselor will need to apply for ACT accommodations in advance of a tutoring program. This is important to know what accommodations your student has in advance.

PROCESS: Our process is based on three pillars: content, approach, and recognition

1. Learning the content: The SAT and ACT test students on 4 full years of Math Curricula, as well as an important set of foundational grammar skills. This material has to be reviewed, weaknesses discovered and explored, and new rules taught just as if in class at school.

2. Approach: We teach a different process for each subject of each test, built to match the cognitive challenges of that subject. Like DNA, the tests have patterns and our approach lines up with those patterns to reduce errors on easy questions and improve accuracy on harder ones. For example, the more information our brains process, the less detail they notice. So for some subjects, where the devil is in the details, students must be forced through repeated process steps to break down information.

3.Recognition: Beyond the basic approach for a particular subject, there is also the recognition of patterns with patterns. Within the Science, what question types show up every exam, and how can we best approach those specific tasks. In English, if we don’t recognize that a question is testing us on a grammatical rule, we won’t know to execute it. We force students, often against their will, to label questions, show they understand the patterns. Other companies mention patterns and then review errors without ever ensuring a student understands what type of question they missed, how to best attack it, and most importantly for test day, how to recognize it when it comes back around in different context.

  • Reading: 65 minutes, 52 questions. Writing (grammar): 35 minutes, 44 questions. Math (non-calculator): 25 minutes, 20 questions. Math (calculator): 55 minutes, 38 questions. Optional Essay: 50 minutes
  • Scoring: Reading: out of 40. Writing: out of 40. Math: out of 800. Take the Reading and Writing, add and multiply by 10 to get a score out of 800, which is your Verbal. Then Math + Verbal out of 1600. Essay is made up of 3 scores out of 8, for a total of 24 (Reading, Analysis, Writing)
  • Essay technically optional, but some schools require it, so it makes sense to take it at each test sitting. Essay does not impact the overall score, it is a separate score and most schools don’t value it, but it will be a technical requirement for some schools.
  • No negative points for wrong answers
  • English: 45 minutes, 75 questions. Math (calculator): 60 minutes, 60 questions. Reading: 35 minutes, 40 questions. Science: 35 minutes, 40 questions. Essay: 40 minutes.
  • Scoring: All multiple choice subjects and overall score out of 36. Average them to achieve Overall composite score. 30.5 rounds up to 31. 30.25 rounds down to 30. Essay out of 12, doesn’t impact the main composite score.
  • Science: This section is not testing you on specific Science facts, for the most part. Maybe 4-5 questions out of 40 are testing your Science knowledge–the rest are asking you to interpret graphs and charts and making basic assumptions about experiments. It’s more about being meticulous with data then about memorizing any science facts.
  • Essay technically optional, but some schools require it, so it makes sense to take it at each test sitting. Essay does not impact the overall score, it is a separate score and most schools don’t value it, but it will be a technical requirement for some schools.
  • No negative points for wrong answers