The College Workout

Should I Take SAT Subject Tests?

Amy Jasper Thursday, April 23, 2015

Some colleges require or recommend that applicants take two or three SAT Subject Tests. Unlike the SAT or the ACT, these are hour-long content based tests. Each test is on one subject and a student can take up to three in one sitting. There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, math and science. You should choose the tests that will best showcase the subject areas where you excel. A few other things to consider:


Check the college's website to see if it requires any specific Subject Tests or if you can choose. For example, a college may require that prospective engineering majors take the Math 2 Subject Test and a at least one science Subject Test.


Take the subject test right after you've completed the recommended classes in school because the material will still be fresh. Look here:

to find the recommended preparation guidelines for each subject as well as practice questions. The May and June test dates of sophomore and junior years tend to be the best dates for this.  

Prepare. Try the free practice questions, download the Getting Ready for the SAT Subject Tests practice booklet or use other preparation resources. 

Remember, all colleges and universities do NOT consider SAT Subject Tests in their admissions process. The best way to confirm testing requirements is directly on the college's website.

Register for subject test here:


Juniors: Spring Semester To Do List

Amy Jasper Monday, February 02, 2015

  • Register for at least one SAT and/or ACT spring test date(s) and prepare. Consider taking SAT subject tests in May or June. Find complete testing information at:  and
  • Don't get spring fever. Continue to put your best effort into your classes. Need help? Ask for it.
  • Stay organized.
  • Schedule challenging courses for senior year. Do not slack off.
  • Meet with your school counselor to create a list of colleges that you want to seriously consider. Make sure the list has a balance of reach, target, and likely schools. 
  • Continue to visit and research colleges of interest.
  • Continue conversation with family about your college plans.
  • How will you pay for college? Learn about financial aid at
  • In the spring, ask a teacher who knows you well to write your teacher recommendation for college applications in the fall.

It's September Seniors: Keep Calm and Do This Now

Amy Jasper Thursday, September 18, 2014

  • Register for ACT, SAT, and/or SAT II.
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss the schools to which you are applying and what you need to do to have your transcripts and recommendations sent. Follow your counselor's directions and adhere to their deadlines.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your teacher(s).
  • Create a chart of your college deadlines and requirements. Remember that short of a natural disaster, colleges are not flexible with deadlines. You must be on time.
  • Complete essays in a timely fashion. Have someone proofread your essays and applications.
  • Meet admissions representatives who visit your school.
  • Have official test scores sent to the colleges to which you're applying.

Five Tips for a Successful Admissions Interview

Amy Jasper Thursday, September 18, 2014

  1. Research the school. You should know all of the basics: size, location, majors of interest to you, ways you want to become involved on campus, etc.
  2. Practice eye contact in the mirror. Admissions interviews are designed for the interviewer to get to know you, not to scare you. It's a conversation. Be thoughtful and comfortable when answering questions. 
  3. Silence your cell phone and spit out your gum.
  4. Greet your interviewer with a confident handshake and smile. 
  5. Have your own questions. For example, you may ask an admissions officer: "What were political, social, or academic issues that concerned students last year?  How did the administration react?" If it's an alumni interviewer: "How did your experiences at University X shape your career and life experiences after graduation?"

Love What You Study

Amy Jasper Thursday, March 27, 2014

Love What You Study by Michael Valacer Notre Dame '17

“What can you do with that?”

The question every liberal arts major ever has heard again and again. And again. And again. By parents and friends alike. My philosophy professor this past semester told us about a student who was given two options by his parents: go to his local state school for less than $20,000 a year and study whatever he liked, or go to Notre Dame for $55,000 a year and study engineering, to ensure a return on their investment. 

Freshmen often choose their majors because of the job prospects. Yet, as this year has gone along, many of my friends who are engineers and science majors with expectations of being millionaires a decade after graduating or who want to be well-paid doctors once they are done with their education have gone one of two routes almost universally: many are either no longer enrolled in the Colleges of Engineering and Science, or they are working their you know whats off just to keep their GPA above a 2.7. Even my friends who thus far have maintained good grades in their science and engineering majors have suffered for it. My friend Katie, a pre-med student who had a 4.0 last semester, mentally broke down the night before her Chemistry 101 final and began laughing manically and doing cartwheels through the library before her friends removed her to the relief of the other students studying there. My friend Henry is a chemical engineer who pulled 3 or 4 all nighters in the ten days before spring break, though he still has a GPA of around 3.5.  This is not to diss their majors, Katie loves her science classes and Henry says his chemical engineering class is his favorite class, but it has come at a cost that would not seem worth it for four years if they were just doing it to get a job and not for love of their studies, as other students have done.

            The irony is, two of the past three years, a higher percentage of Notre Dame's liberal arts majors have either a job, enrolled in graduate school, joined the military, or are doing full-time volunteer work than their compatriots in the College of Engineering, and were either tied or within two percentage points of their peers from the Colleges of Science and Business.  Philosophy, one of the biggest punching bags in the liberal arts, had zero percent of its graduates seeking employment after college. Zero. The nine classics majors in the class of 2011 all had jobs or graduate programs, including two students studying to be doctors at the University of Chicago, a very prestigious school.  And they did this not without studying hard materials, but without working themselves into the ground and while still being able to enjoy college and their studies. 

            Again, I wish not to diss the engineers and scientists who make the cut and love their studies.  They will all be very successful and will probably make much more money than me, as most data shows. But time and time again, I hear how college is supposed to be the best four years of our lives. So don't ruin that by studying something you hate and which controls your life.  Study what you love, and love what you study.  You will excel in those fields, and will be just fine in the long run.  There's no reason you can't enjoy every aspect of college.

Social Media - It's a Small World After All

Amy Jasper Monday, September 02, 2013

Social media has made ‘it’s a small world’ far more then a figure of speech or a ride at Disney World. Many colleges have ways for prospective students to be connected to their potential schools by FB, Twitter, blogs, and various other mediums. Whether you are a senior preparing to apply to colleges or a 9th, 10th, or 11th grader, you need to be keenly aware of your online presence. A great rule to follow is: only post pictures, videos, or comments online that you would not be embarrassed to show your grandmother or have plastered on a bill board on I-95. Apply this to all sites that you participate – FB, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. Also create an email address that is basic and professional. Applying to one’s dream school with the email address or is not a good look. It is a fact that some colleges and employers do indeed Google applicants or checkout their FB page. How many? We’ll never truly know… but better safe than sorry.

Goucher College - Creating Global Citizens

Amy Jasper Monday, January 14, 2013

Location. Location. Location. Goucher College definitely has a location that is appealing to a variety of people. It sits on 300 beautiful sprawling acres yet is only 8 miles from downtown Baltimore. It is walking distance from Trader Joes, Barnes and Noble, and a mall that Macy’s, Apple, and many other stores call home. 

Though not Quaker, Goucher values the Quaker ideals of equity, and justice; and students and professors are all on a first name basis.  Goucher has an innovative multidisciplinary approach to the liberal arts tradition. In 2006 it became the first college in the nation to make study abroad a requirement for all undergraduate degrees. Classroom learning is discussion based with International Studies, Psychology, and Education among its most popular majors. The college also has non-traditional majors such as Peace Studies as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Symbolic of the very essence of Goucher is the landmark Athenaeum. It crosses boundaries, creates harmony, and is LEED Gold certified. This striking building takes mixed used space to a new level. It houses the library, computer commons, amphitheater, art gallery, a cardio-fitness loft (what better way to break-up a late night of studying then hopping on the treadmill), a gourmet café, and the Community Service and Multicultural Affairs Center. It is in the center of the very residential walking campus and serves as its hub. Goucher’s 1,500 students are involved, happy global citizens.
FOr a change of pace they can take courses at Johns Hopkins, UMBC, Loyola, or Towson. All of which are within 15 minutes and a free shuttle ride away. Students speak of how good the food is and how vast the options are. There is a kosher dining hall, a coffee house, and all night dining options as well a more traditional cafeteria.

Goucher has 18 Division III intercollegiate sports and a highly successful Division I indoor and outdoor equestrian program that finished 7th in the country last year.

Goucher admissions process is test-optional. Of admitted students who submitted their scores, the average SAT range was 1030-1270 and the average ACT range was 23-28. The average GPA was a 3.1. It is one of the schools featured in Loren Pope's "Colleges That Change Lives" (CTCL). Find out more about Goucher at and

What to Do With Those PSAT Scores From Last Month

Amy Jasper Monday, January 14, 2013

What To Do With Those PSAT Scores From Last Month…

By: Beth Harrison - Owner and Primary Consultant, Prep for Success 

Let’s start with the facts- what is this PSAT/NMSQT really?

  • A shorter, slightly easier practice SAT
  • Offered in schools in October to Juniors, Sophomores and even some Freshmen
  • Scores are not sent to colleges, and do not affect admission, but schools can buy lists from the College Board based on certain score criteria, which is why you may see an uptick in mail/email from schools.
  • Comprised of the same multiple choice Critical Reading, Math, and Writing questions the SAT does but does NOT have the written essay that the SAT does
  • The PSAT is considerably shorter than the SAT. The SAT has 10 Sections: 3 Critical Reading, 3 Math, 2 Writing, 1 Essay, and 1 Experimental Section. This adds up to 3 hours and 45 minutes of testing. The PSAT has only 5 Sections: 2 Critical Reading, 2 Math, and 1 Writing. This adds up to 2 hours and 10 minutes of testing.

For most students, the PSAT is nothing more than a practice test that provides an occasion to learn about the SAT- what it will look like and how they might perform if they were to take the SAT. For a few students, the PSAT is a larger opportunity. The second half of the acronym PSAT/NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT is used as a qualifier for several scholarships, the two most prominent being the National Merit Scholarship and the National Achievement Scholarship.

While some great changes were made in 2010 to the way the College Board reported PSAT scores to make the data more accessible, it still may be daunting to decipher or to know what to do with the data from here. For juniors, now is the time to begin preparing for the SAT. Use this report to review the questions you missed and to inform your study plans. If you’re already doing well in some sections, don’t ignore them- these may be your best opportunities to see score increases. If you’re not achieving scores as high as you’d like, start studying now!

For more information on PSATs, SATs or the ACT, or to register for a PSAT Review Session, please contact Prep for Success by email at

PSAT Review Sessions are 3.5 hour long sessions that review questions from the actual exam and offer students strategies to improve their scores.

Saturday, January 19th 9:00am – 12:30pm

Happy New Year Seniors!

Amy Jasper Monday, January 14, 2013

Right now there are two kinds of college bound seniors. One has already been accepted into the school of their choice and has decided to attend. The other is still applying to colleges. Both are perfectly fine positions to be in but require different plans of action. The following steps in these winter months will keep you on track for a happy spring.

 Seniors Who Can Kiss the Admissions Process Goodbye:

  • Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
  • Say Thank You – Remember you did not get to this point on your own. Thank those who supported you in this process, wrote letters, proofread, paid for application fees, took you on college visits, etc.
  • Apply for Financial Aid - Complete the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.
  • If you were admitted under binding ED, be sure to withdraw your applications from other schools.                                                  

 Seniors in the Homestretch of the Process:

  • Be sure to adhere to deadlines, as many are January 15th or February 1st.
  • Don’t let your energy fade. Put as much into these last applications as you did others.
  • Give your college list a final review. Think of admission decision worse case scenarios and be certain you have choices you can be happy with.
  • Apply for Financial Aid - Complete the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.
  • Be patient... it's a virtue.

Campus Spotlight: The College of William & Mary

Amy Jasper Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When Sean, a junior from Long Island, began talking about his major in Neuroscience and his Biology/Chemistry minor, it was clear that he fit a stereotype of the William & Mary student. When he passionately spoke about his neuro-degenerative lab research on Huntington's Disease, there was no doubt that this was a brainy (no pun intended) kid who loved to learn. However it was when he began talking about his non-academic passions: collecting food from local restaurants at night to be used to feed the hungry, cheering on the Tribe football team with a painted face, or playing a mean game of ultimate Frisbee with his hall mates, it became evident that his experience reached far beyond the classroom and included a great deal of fun.

Self-described as being "Smart, Fun, and Diverse," William & Mary seems to live up to all three descriptors. There is an intellectual culture that not only promotes classroom learning but also the application of thoughts, ideas, and passions to other dimensions of the college experience. Hundreds of student clubs and organizations (including an alive and well Greek system) offer a multitude of options for social and/or active fun, service, and activism. This is a place where students that represent a variety of life experiences and ideas are celebrated and contribute to the diverse fabric of the school.

As a college that prides itself in being the second oldest in the country, the alma mater of four US presidents dating back to Thomas Jefferson, and the home of numerous firsts, William and Mary is very much a part of the here and now. They value a worldview, so much so that among Virginia state schools it has the highest percent of students who study abroad. Students are involved in cutting edge research and learning opportunities, faculty accessibility is a reality, and a passion for learning is a must. Students are encouraged to explore the curriculum, and in true liberal arts fashion, writing exist regardless of the subject.

William and Mary is a state school, in Williamsburg, Virginia. It accepts the Common Application with two supplemental essays. Admission is competitive. 80% of admitted students with a class rank are in the top 10% of their class. The middle 50% range for the SAT (CR+M) is 1240-1450. The middle range for the ACT is 28-32.


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