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:


A Taste of VA Private Colleges

Amy Jasper Monday, February 24, 2014

Southwest Virginia is a beautiful corner of the state that boasts several private colleges. They represent a diverse collection of small colleges, each having a great deal to offer.  I was fortunate to experience them first hand as I toured several in that area. Here's a snapshot of my visits...

 An excellent mass communications program at Emory & Henry gives students a rich media experience not found at many larger programs. Washington and Lee is the only top tier liberal arts college to have a nationally accredited commerce school, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. They also have a speaking (as in saying hello to everyone you pass) tradition on campus. The Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins University prepares young women to deeply explore their own leadership potential. Hollins also has a national powerhouse riding program. Roanoke College has a unique and dynamic core curriculum and close faculty student relationships that all students speak of proudly. Ferrum College is a close-knit family like community with several opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and is one of only two schools in Virginia with a horticulture major (the other is VA Tech). The Jefferson College of Health Sciences offers a BS in Emergency Services with two possible degree tracks: the Paramedic/Firefighter Track and the Paramedic/Critical Care Track. Of course these schools have more many attributes then I have mentioned. Click on their websites for more information. 

 As this small sampling proves, there are colleges to meet the various interests, priorities and goals of college bound students. This year I will continue to visit colleges across the nation. Look for College Spotlights in future newsletters and here in The College Workout. 

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

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.

Decisions... Decisions... Decisions

Amy Jasper Monday, October 15, 2012

There are several ways to apply to college. It's important to choose the right plan(s) for you.

Rolling Admission: Colleges make decisions as soon as the student’s application is complete, starting as early as the end of August. This is a nice way to know that you are "in" and relieve some initial stress.

Early Decision: A binding agreement to a first choice school. Deadlines are typically around November 1st. Students are notified before the December holidays. If accepted, the student is committed to attend. Students can apply ED to only one school.

Early Action: A non-binding agreement. Deadlines are typically in November. Students usually get a decision before the December holidays but do not have to decide until May 1st.

Regular: Applications are usually due in January with students being notified in late March or early April. Students must decide by May 1st.


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