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It is a common phenomenon where students are not able to get their test-day scores to match their practice test scores. To them the gap seems unsurmountable. No matter how much they work hard, or how many practice tests they take, they underperform at the actual test.
If you are one of such students, we suggest to read this blog. There are a few common reasons that official scores remain persistently lower than practice scores.
1. Test taking anxiety--fast and slow
It is natural for you to feel anxious on a test. That can manifest in many ways. You could freeze and lose confidence and try to over thing thus missing a few questions. Or, you could speed up, trying to do everything as fast as possible and start making mistakes.
If you are a slow test taker, speed up. Don't over think. If you are a fast test taker, slow down. There is usually more time than you think.
At Hillview Prep, we use an interval based strategy to teach you the right pacing for your test. Test taking is mostly about learning how to take tests when you know the material. Our methods will train you how to pace yourself correctly and bridge your performance gap.
2. Are you taking the wrong tests?!
Third-party tests (Kaplan, Barron’s, Princeton Review, etc.) are not interchangeable with the real thing. They are good to improve your understanding and abilities, but they are not the real tests. The questions they ask are different and that may be one reason why your official test scores are different than your practice ones.
At Hillview Prep, we carefully plan your learning. We interleave the third-party tests with the real tests so you build your stamina and experience in answering test questions. We make sure that you see different publishers, but not lose sight of the real tests. We also make sure you are not just using old tests.
3. Are you second guessing your answers?
Often students second guess themselves. They go back and check and double-check their answers, and end up changing the right answers to wrong ones. Many students lose points this way.
At Hillview Prep, we teach you how to guess when you are unsure of your answers. Our deducting reasoning methodology limits the number of pure guesses, so you don't have to go back and second guess your answers all the time.
4. Beware the distractions!
At home you can concentrate easily, as long as you put away your digital devices and other distractions. During the official tests, many students get distracted because their concentration got thrown off by the test taker in front of them. Maybe they were kicking their chairs, humming a tune or tapping their pencils. If someone in the room is really being loud, you can obviously ask your proctor to stop the distractor.
At Hillview Prep, we organize bootcamps and classes which mimic real test conditions. You will be taking tests with other kids, which means distractions. You could take tests using earplugs, but they may not be allowed in the real test centers due to past cheating scandals.
5. Can you sustain your focus?
Real tests are long, and unlike studying at home, you don't have access to your phone, or frequent breaks, etc. If you are not used to focusing for long periods, your performance in the real test will suffer.
At Hillview Prep, our interval pacing strategy trains you to focus for longer periods of time, thus building your test taking endurance. We teach you how to pace yourself, how to take short mental breaks without losing the flow of the test. Just like you would train for a marathon, we train you to build your endurance for the grueling test.
6. Are you being stubborn and not applying better test strategies?
We have seen smart students underperform in actual tests. The reason is that they are stubborn and refuse to implement the strategies we teach. A case in point. A bright, straight-A student came to us for ACT test prep. We coached him in better test taking strategies. He refused to use your strategies and ended up scoring a 30. We believe he could have scored a 34, given his high level of knowledge and expertise, but he refused to implement better strategies.
At Hillview Prep, we try to match our strategies with your strengths and coach you how to use your strengths to conquer your weaknesses. However, if you refuse to implement good strategies, you will underperform in your tests.
Contact us if you need help on your test prep. Call today!
What is the ISEE?
The ISEE consists of five sections at three levels designed to measure the verbal and quantitative reasoning and achievement of students in grades 4–11 seeking admission to grades 5–12 in independent schools. Students seeking admission to grades 5 or 6 take the Lower Level; students seeking admission to grades 7 or 8 take the Middle Level; and students seeking admission to grades 9–12 take the Upper Level.
When can you take the ISEE?
Students can take the ISEE up to three times in a 12-month admission cycle, once in any or all of the three testing seasons. The seasons are Fall (August–November), Winter (December–March), and Spring/Summer (April–July).
What is tested on the ISEE?
The five sections that make up the ISEE are (in order of testing): Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Mathematics Achievement, and an Essay which is written by the student in response to a given writing prompt.
What do all these acronyms stand for?
What types of questions are on the ISEE?
The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Math Achievement sections contain only multiple-choice questions. Each question has four choices. Only one answer is the correct or “best” answer. The Essay section requires the student to write an essay in response to a prompt.
How long is the ISEE Lower Level Test (Grades 4-5)?
Total: 2 hours, 20 minutes
How long is the ISEE Middle Level Test (Grades 6-7)?
Total: 2 hours, 40 minutes
How long is the ISEE Upper Level Test (Grades 8-11)?
Total: 2 hours, 40 minutes
What does the ISEE measure?
The ISEE does not measure your student's IQ. It measures the readiness level of the student and academic standing. Is the student prepared for the school of his or her choice?
Are there any breaks during the test?
There are two breaks—one following the Quantitative Reasoning section and another following the Math Achievement section. Each break is five to ten minutes long.
How soon will I receive my student's scores?
The ISR is posted to the parent online account after scoring, which is approximately 10–14 days after testing. For paper testing, optional expedited receipt of scores online is available to you for an additional $40. This enables the parent to receive the scores on the day the test is scored. An email will be sent to notify you when the scores have posted to your online account, usually the Monday, Wednesday, or Friday after the test.
What happens to my scores?
After paper testing, answers and essays are sent to the ISEE Operations Office for scoring of the four multiple choice sections and production of the Individual Student Report (ISR). Copies of the ISR may be emailed to the parent, ERB members, or both. The ISR is posted to the parent online account after scoring, which is approximately 10–14 days after testing. The essay, which is not scored and not released to the parent, is released online (with the ISR) to ERB members. School score reports do not list any recipients other than the individual school receiving the report.
What materials should students bring to the test?
For paper testing only, students should bring four #2 pencils and two pens with either blue or black ink. Students may choose to use erasable ink.
What materials are prohibited during the test?
Most materials other than writing implements are prohibited. Specifically, scratch paper, calculators, calculator watches, rulers, protractors, compasses, dictionaries, and thesauruses are NOT permitted during the actual test.
Will my student be penalized for wrong answers?
Scores are based on the number of correct answers. There is no penalty for wrong answers on the ISEE. So, answer every question, and guess when necessary.
What is the difference between the 'raw' and 'scaled' scores?
A raw score represents the number correct. If a student got 31 items correct, then the raw score is simply 31. A scaled score is a raw score that has been converted to a different numerical scale, e.g., 200–800. The raw score scale ranges from 0–maximum score, while the scaled score range consists of higher numbers with a somewhat arbitrary minimum and maximum score. The range of scaled scores on the ISEE is 760–940.
What in the world is a 'stanine'?
The test is the same for different grade levels, e.g. upper level is for 8 to 11 graders. How will be my student judged?
A stanine score is based on percentile ranks. Percentile ranks range from 1–99, while stanines range from 1–9. In general, a stanine score of 1–3 is below average, 4–6 is average, and 7–9 is above average.
Percentile Rank Stanine
This is a common question parents have. Your student gets a percentile rank and is only compared to students at the same grade level over the past 3 years. So a 9th grader will only be compared to other 9th graders.
How do I sign up for the test?
Sign up here! https://iseeonline.erblearn.org/
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A dictionary definition of character is: "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual."
That is exactly what schools are looking for. They want to know you -- your mental and moral qualities. Many students get A+ grades and perfect or almost perfect test scores, but what makes them unique and stand out?
A child’s personality and character have always been important to the independent school admission process, but they did not have a tool to measure the character skills a student is developing or has already developed.
A tool is now available. It is called The Character Skills Snapshot, which is a new online assessment that provides schools with a more holistic view of your child. It measures your child’s character skill development and is meant to complement more traditional assessments, such as the SSAT, the ISEE or the HSPT. The Character Skills Snapshot gives admission teams richer holistic information and illuminates areas where their school can help your child grow, thrive, and shine.
Why should you care about the Character Skills Snapshot? Remember that one of the reasons you want your child in an independent school is an education that focuses on instilling character values and encouraging personal growth.
Schools know that a complete picture of your child contains much more than grades and test scores. That’s why they are asking your child to take The Character Skills Snapshot as part of their application. It will give them richer information about your child, and show them areas where they can help your child grow.
Admission teams will use the information provided from The Character Skills Snapshot to complement ISEE or SSAT test scores, interviews, grades, letters of recommendation, and other information.
The Character Snapshot
Snapshot was designed by test experts and independent school admission professionals to measure eight skills they deemed important when considering applications: intellectual curiosity, teamwork, initiative, responsibility, resilience, self-control, open-mindedness, and social awareness.
If you need help in applying to private high schools and/or want help on preparing for the ISEE and/or SSAT tests, please feel free to contact us. We offer high school admission consulting and ISEE/SSAT test prep.
ISEE or SSAT? That is the question!
Although both tests are accepted by most private, non-parochial schools, they are different in many ways.
An overview of differences:
Below are more details on the differences between the ISEE and the SSAT.
1. You are penalized for wrong answers.
On the Middle and Upper Levels, students receive one point for every correct answer, and they lose one-quarter point for each wrong answer for questions with five possible responses. No points are lost for skipping a question. (For this reason, it only makes sense to guess if one or more answers can be eliminated.) There is no penalty for incorrect answers on the Elementary Level. (In this case, guessing is advised.) Guess if you get it down to two possible answers.
2. The language section is strongly inferential.
SSAT is all about strategies. The language section is much more inferential and more answers to choose from than the ISEE and the HSPT. Inference is using both inductive and deducting reasoning to come to an assumption or conclusion. So it comes down to how much of a versatile thinker you are. If you are too abstract, you have to practice being more literal, and vice-versa.
Learn Hillview Prep's method how to approach inferential problems. That is the key to do really well on the SSAT. Use Hillview Prep's Smart Scoring System to diagnose where what you need to be more versatile: how can you use your strengths to conquer your weaknesses.
3. The verbal section is grueling
The section is longer and fast paced. The SSAT includes one 30-minute verbal section, which is composed of 30 synonym questions and 30 analogy questions. Given the time limit and the number of questions, students have approximately 30 seconds to answer each question. There are more choices and again the presentation is inferential.
Contact us to help you prepare well for your SSAT test.
1. The test is fast-paced.
The ISEE is a standardized test administered over a three-hour period. Students have less than a minute to answer most questions, and on some sections they only have half a minute to answer each question.
The reading section is very fast-paced; students are given six minutes in total to read a passage (usually about 60 lines in length) and answer six questions related to the passage. The answers are not always easy to find in the passage; there are many inference questions, which require that students to learn deductive reasoning. Check out Hillview Prep's 'keyword' strategy to differentiate the answer choices.
And, of course, use Hillview Prep's proprietary Smart Scoring System to learn how to pace yourself for the test.
2. Math requires more steps.
The math sections contain problems involving algebra, geometry, probability, metric conversions, fractions, decimals, percents, negative numbers, order of operations, mean, median, mode, averages and square roots. There are a lot of word problems that combine require multiple steps to solve making them quite challenging.
Learn Hillview Prep's method of consolidation to help you solve these challenging problems.
4. Essays are a challenge!
The essay portion of the test can be challenging for many students. The most important thing is writing the evidence to support your thesis. It is all about validation. In addition, students need to be careful with grammar, spelling, sentence structure and transitions between paragraphs. This is all very challenging to do in 30 minutes with a topic they have just been given.
Learn outlining and step by step sequential thinking skills to write excellent essays from our mentors here at Hillview Prep. Contact us to help you prepare well for your ISEE test.
The Harker School is an elite Bay Area academic powerhouse with an impressive record not short of any accolades. Ranked the 6th best private school in California, Harker's high school, known as the Upper School, has cultivated some of the best and brightest young minds from the South Bay. But is the Harker School right for your high school student? Here are a few fast facts to consider:
World Record AP Scores
Harker students have scored some of the highest AP exam scores in the country. This past spring, the College Board reported that Vedaad Shakib, grade 11, and Sahana Srinivasan, grade 10, were two of just 67 students nationwide to earn a top score on the computer science exam. Likewise Janet Lee, grade 12, was one of 54 students to do the same in microeconomics, a particularly strong subject in the Harker curriculum. The San Jose Mercury News reported in 2013 that 11 out of 11 Harker AP Microeconomics students scored a perfect 5 on the exam, being the only school in the world to do so. Not bad at all.
Hard to Beat SAT Scores
In 2014, the Huffington Post reported that Harker students received the second highest SAT scores in the country with an average score of 2210. The most recent Harker average in 2016 brought the score to 2220 with section scores of 740 in all three Writing, Reading and Math sections. Considering the national average SAT score is 1700, it is noteworthy that Harker students are scoring at least 500 points higher than any given peer within the United States.
A Priceless Education
Academic excellence does not come cheap. Sending your student to Harker for high school will cost you a whopping $43,693 per year. When you graduate you a Harker student, your high school diploma is a piece of paper close to $175,000 in worth. If you can afford the pricetag, your student not only gains a world-class education but also becomes part of a network of some of the nation's brightest young intellectuals of the upcoming generation.
While your student will find typical extracurriculars like sports and speech-and-debate, a number of unique extracurricular opportunities await outside of class at Harker. Emphasizing access to a global education, Harker students can take part in a number of student exchanges with partners in Australia, Japan, India and Switzerland. Harker prepares its students to take advantage of all Silicon Valley has to offer through its Business and Entrepreneurship programming. In harnessing the passions of all its students, Harker also offers research opportunities for its upper school students in subjects covering the sciences, the humanities, and countless others. All in all, there truly is something for everyone to pursue after class hours end at Harker.
Where are they now?
Curious to see where Harker students are going? Well, you actually can! Data from the class of 2013, 2014 and 2015 reveals that not just a few but many students got into the most competitive universities in the country including Stanford (44), Harvard (16), MIT (31), Columbia (30), UPenn (28), Duke (40), and Cornell (61) to name a few. Some universities accepting the highest number of Harker students include Carnegie Mellon (86), Berkeley (173), USC (162), NYU (74), University of Washington (88), and UCSD (201). The stats don't lie: Harker students are really going places with their education.
Want to know more about getting your student into Harker? Contact the Hillview Prep team today to schedule a consultation for your student at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your ultimate goal...
Every year, thousands of students will apply for admission to the private school of their dreams. As the process begins, each student must decide whether to take the ISEE, SSAT, or both.
What are the differences? Similarities?
The difference between the ISEE and SSAT is similar to that of the SAT and ACT. Here are a few similarities to note:
Here are some differences to note:
Which one is right for me?
Even though you have the potential to score high on either test, the formats of the ISEE and SSAT do provide different test taking experiences.
The Hillview Prep Difference.
Whether you are a literal or abstract thinker, stronger or weaker at math, or have any other academic strengths or weaknesses, your overall goal is to be the most well rounded test taker possible. Are you a literal thinker? Let's learn to become more abstract and a better decision maker. Are you an abstract thinker? Let's improve your detail. Learning these skills will prove valuable not only for the ISEE and SSAT, but for any area of academia.
What goals do we have for this summer?
It’s that time of the season. The end of school year is rapidly approaching and we must start planning for summer.
Not just a summer camp, but a summer opportunity.
Summer is a time for us to improve ourselves, whether it be athletically, socially, or academically. One way to best understand what we want to improve is by asking ourselves what we want from the year ahead. Are we looking to make the varsity team? Are we applying to high school or college? Are we developing an interest of ours? Do we want to serve our community?
Will the plethora of options out there, we do not have to limit ourselves to just one. Let make the most of our summer and manage our time accordingly.
Flexibility meets quality: The Hillview Prep difference.
At Hillview Prep, our summer programs are “modular”. What does “modular” mean exactly? It means that your program is designed to fit your schedule! Whether you have vacations planned, another summer camp, or just a less intense summer schedule, learning with us can be as flexible as you need. Whether you are looking for an SAT, HSPT, ISEE, SSAT, Math, or admissions planning summer camp, we are here to help!
Curious to learn more? Check out our summer classes at Hillview Summer Classes!
Your ideal SAT or ACT study method may turn out to be a combination of styles.
In this series of blog posts, we will focus on different learning styles and how Hillview Prep adapts teaching methods to the learning style and multiple intelligences.
Visual-spatial learners learn best when they:
• follow visual cues and landmarks
• imagine what something looks like as a memory aid
• look at photos or images on a screen
• look at whole words printed on a page
• use visual recall as a learning strategy
• view their own videos performing a task or activity
• watch Youtube!
• watch someone else perform a task or an activity
Methods @ Hillview Prep
We use Microsoft's Surface tablet with a cloud based app to teach, learn and communicate. The Surface tablet allows for a rich visual media, which is great for visual learners.
You may be a visual learner if you prefer visual aids such as charts, or if you frequently return to your textbook to clarify lecture content.
Aspergers students typically show strengths in their visual processing skills, with significant weaknesses in their ability to process information via auditory means. Our use of visual methods can help Aspergers students better understand his/her environment.
Some gifted students are also visual learners. They often learn best by comparing and contrasting a piece of literature to a video, or they may be great in geometry. Graphic organizers are a great resource to use with these learners. At Hillview Prep we combine real-life objects and figures with geometry to help the visual-spatial learners to grasp and retain concepts.
Is your child a visual learner? Not sure what type of learner your child is? Contact us!
We offer a free one hour consultation!
Why study for SAT/ACT and HSPT/ISEE during the summer?
Summer is supposed to be fun! Why study at all? According to New York Times, the average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students is one month per year. This learning loss is cumulative, summer after summer. It has a big impact on students’ success, including high school completion, college education and job preparedness.
Yes, but ... I will be on vacation when you are offering classes.
We know! —And we have a solution. We have a cloud-based student/instructor network that offers instant sharing, integrated chat, and efficient note taking through a browser or mobile device. Our students have the ability to access their course from anywhere, interact with our instructors anytime, and receive instant support.
We work around your schedule, so you can have fun and learn at the same time. Learning does not have to be painful or time or location constrained. That is the Hillview philosophy and difference.
So, what are you offering in the summer?
We are offering HSPT/ISEE (private high school placement test) and SAT/ACT classes, including a workshop on high school and college admissions.
What is your class size?
We believe in small classes and individual attention. We limit our classes to 10 students. Students have however 24 x 7 access to material and instructors via our cloud based mobile software technology.
How do I know if the courses are valuable?
We guarantee that a student will see an improvement of at least 20%. We will continue to support the student beyond summer via our cloud based mobile system to ensure that he or she succeeds.
What is the schedule? Can I pick and choose?
Absolutely, we have a flexible schedule build around your schedule. Check out our summer 2016 program at http://www.hillviewprep.com/summer—hillview.html.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and/or need more information.
Founder & CEO