Susan McDaniel Havre Daily News email@example.com
Along with financial aid, probably the most stress-inducing part of the college preparation process is standardized testing. With many high school students’ thoughts turning to college admission there are three websites available offering them help in preparing for the upcoming ACT and SAT exams. The two most commonly used college admission tests are the SAT, produced by The College Board, and the ACT, produced by the ACT Corporation. Neither is an intelligence or IQ test, and their scores do not indicate how smart a student is. The tests are designed to measure knowledge in areas determined to predict academic success in college. Colleges use them alongside high school performance and a variety of other factors to try to select the students with the highest probability for success. Ann Remus from the Havre High School counseling center wants to remind parents and students that there are “tons of study guides” available for the students to use in preparing for the tests. The next test dates are Feb. 10 for the ACT assessment and Jan. 27 for the SAT. Registration deadlines for these two tests have passed but there will still be two more opportunities to register for the ACT and three more scheduled dates for the SAT program. The tests can be taken by both high school juniors and seniors. Taking one of the tests as a junior gives the student the time and opportunity to retake and improve their scores. For those students who are planning on taking the next scheduled tests, there are three websites with practice tests available. The College Board which administers the SAT and the ACT corporation the two college testing programs each have a website that helps students with preparing for the tests plus much more. In addition, the Student Assistance Foundation provides Montana students with testing help. The Student Assistance Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Montana corporation that provides students with knowledge and tools to finance and pursue their postsecondary education. Funds generated by SAF are returned to Montanans in the form of education grants and public benefit programs to date more than $4.5 million. Montana students are able to take three ACT and three SAT practice tests free of charge when they access the SAF Web site at www.saf.mt.org. Many other Web sites charge for that service. “We hope this service will help more students feel comfortable taking the ACT or the SAT,” said Kelly Chapman, SAF’s executive vice president of foundation activities. In 2006, 3,024 Montana students took the SAT and 6,033 seniors took the ACT. “Many students retake the tests if they feel they could score higher, which costs them money for every re-take,” Chapman said. “By taking a practice test in advance, students will be better prepared when they sit down to do the real thing.” According to research conducted by ACT, 55 percent of students who took the ACT more than once increased their composite score. Chapman added that this new service comes at a particularly opportune time for Montana students, as the state’s Board of Regents of Higher Education is considering changing how it distributes honor scholarships in the Montana university system. In the past, the scholarships were awarded to students based on class ranking using grade point average. Should the board adopt the proposed changes, scholarships would be awarded based on a formula that gives greater weight to ACT and SAT scores. Another upcoming date that is important to remember is March 1, when the federal student aid application FAFSA is due. These applications are available in the counseling center at Havre High School and also online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Because colleges and universities base their financial aid awards on the information from these applications, it is important to submit them as early in the year as possible.