By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With Labor Day gone and school starting up again this week, back-to-school season is in full swing and for students getting ready for their final years in high school, that means considering their options for the college entrance exams.
Applerouth Tutoring Services, an Atlanta-based company that focuses on SAT and ACT test preparation, will be offering a free workshop at the 14th Street Y on September 20 to discuss the significant changes that will be made to the SAT this year, as well as a discussion about the differences between the SAT and ACT.
Stuy Town resident Nanette Ross, whose children both went to New York public schools, just sent her youngest kid to college but wanted to stay involved with education in the community.
“I’ve been involved with the public school system for 20 years, raising funds to rebuild schools, helping to build programming, playgrounds and technology,” she said. “Over time I became known to people in the community as a real advocate for public education. I’ve always felt strongly in public education, so I wanted to try and educate as many people as possible in the community about what is changing.”
Applerouth Tutoring will also be offering an ACT prep class at the Y beginning on September 26 but company founder Jed Applerouth said that the presentation the week before is separate from the class itself.
“It’s going to be a higher level of discussion geared towards parents,” he said. “We’ll talk more about the forces creating the changes and about what they have to know to stay ahead. It cuts down to the essence of what’s happening in standardized testing.”
Applerouth said that the SAT is currently undergoing the most radical redesign in the test’s history to align closer with the Common Core, and the informational session will talk about the test’s new content and give parents information about how to get their kids ready for either test.
The ACT, which has been more aligned to the common core than the SAT, was dominating all over the country in recent years, Applerouth said, and the SAT is now shifting to move in the direction of the ACT.
“The number one test is the ACT now,” he said. “It used to be that the coasts took the SAT and middle of the country took the ACT but that’s not the case anymore at all. It’s accepted universally and the ACT is taking off like never before.”
One of the major changes to the SAT in 2005 was the removal of analogies and one of the recent changes in the redesign this year is the shift away from advanced vocabulary.
“(The verbal section) used to be 50 percent vocabulary but the words are much easier now,” he said. “Kids aren’t memorizing flashcards and that’s a very pronounced change.”
Another major shift in the SAT is a more pronounced focus on reading comprehension and the writing assessment will now be combined with the verbal section.
“The new test is more about rhetorical skills and paragraphs, whereas the old test was about grammar,” he said. “It’s shifting from a test about aptitude towards one of achievement, trying to give more data on more student levels.”
Although she no longer has kids she needs to worry about, Ross said that she got involved because all the changes to the test were confusing to her as a parent, even though she didn’t have to take the test herself.
“I wanted to open the doors to the community so parents could find out what’s happening with the changing landscape (in these standardized tests),” she said.
“The kids are the ones that are going to be hurt. We can’t rely on the school’s guidance department to educate community about the entrance exam process because it’s not their expertise to understand the changes in the test. It’s a ridiculous industry and that’s going to hurt our kids, so I wanted to help.”
To sign up for the workshop at the Y, visit applerouth.com/signup and entering the event code M177694.