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More than just technical guidance.

Whether you’re taking the SSAT or ISEE for middle school or high school admissions, the SAT or ACT for college admissions, or the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT for graduate school admissions, we have you covered.

Getting into Middle & High School
Getting into Middle & High School: ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT
getting into middle school

ISEE

The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is designed to assess students’ abilities in core subject areas to determine if a student is qualified for admission to private middle or high schools. The ISEE is offered at three levels: Lower (for prospective 5th & 6th graders), Middle (for prospective 7th & 8th graders), and Upper (for prospective 9th–12th graders.)

Content

The ISEE is has four multiple-choice sections, followed by an essay. The multiple-choice portion of the test consists of two Math sections, a Verbal section that tests vocabulary with synonyms and sentence-completion questions, and a Reading Comprehension section.

Scoring

Calculating an ISEE score starts by counting a student’s total number of correct answers. This raw score is placed on a bell curve that compares students’ scores across the nation, generating a percentile rank comparing students of the same grade. Students also receive a stanine score between 1 and 9, with 9 being the highest and 5 being the most common stanine. The essay is not graded, but it is sent to schools along with scores and may be used in the admissions process.

Preparing for the ISEE

Preparing for the ISEE helps students gain familiarity with the format of the test and emphasizes fundamental math, verbal, and reading skills that will help students during the test and beyond. To discuss an individualized plan for your student, please contact us.

Registration Dates and Test Dates

The ISEE is administered by appointment. To register for the ISEE, click here.

SSAT

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) measures quantitative, verbal, reading comprehension, and writing skills, and it is used by competitive secondary schools to gauge a prospective student’s skills and predict his or her likelihood of academic success. The SSAT is offered at three levels: Elementary (for prospective 4th & 5th graders), Middle (for prospective 6th–8th graders) and Upper (for prospective 9th–12th graders).

Content

The SSAT has four multiple-choice sections, followed by an essay. The multiple-choice portion of the test consists of two Math sections, a Verbal section that tests vocabulary with synonyms and analogies, and a Reading Comprehension section.

Scoring

A raw score for the SSAT is determined by the total number of a student’s correct answers, minus a quarter-point for each incorrect answer. The raw scores for the three subsections are converted to scaled scores, which are added together for a total scaled score that ranges from 900–1800 (Elementary Level), 1320–2130 (Middle Level), or 1500–2400 (Upper Level). Students are also assigned a percentile rank that compares their scores to those of other students of the same grade and gender from the previous three years. Rather than the raw or scaled scores, the percentiles are what schools focus on when considering students for admission. The essay is not graded, but it is sent to schools along with scores and may be used in the admissions process.

Preparing for the SSAT

Preparing for the SSAT helps students gain familiarity with the format of the test and emphasizes fundamental math, verbal, and reading skills that will help students during the test and beyond. To discuss an individualized plan for your student, please contact us.

Registration Dates and Test Dates

The SSAT is offered many times throughout the year. To register for the SSAT, click here.
getting into high school

SHSAT

The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) is administered by the New York City Department of Education, and it is the only criterion for admission to eight of the New York City Specialized High Schools: Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn Latin School, The Bronx High School of Science, High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School.

Content

The SHSAT has two sections: Verbal and Mathematics. The Verbal section consists of 45 multiple-choice questions that cover reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and paragraph improvement skills. The Math section is comprised of 50 multiple-choice questions that test concepts such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and logic.

Scoring

Students are awarded a point for each correct answer and are not penalized for incorrect answers. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score between 200 and 800.

Preparing for the SHSAT

Preparing for the SHSAT helps students gain familiarity with the format of the test and emphasizes fundamental math, verbal, and reading skills that will help students during the test and beyond. To discuss an individualized plan for your student, please contact us.

Registration Dates and Test Dates

The SHSAT is offered once per year. The 2019 dates have not yet been announced, but they are typically in October.

For more information about the SHSAT, click here.

Getting into College
Getting into College: PSAT, SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests

getting into college

PSAT

The PSAT is a preliminary version of the SAT that tests virtually the same skills as the SAT, making it valuable practice for the SAT. Students generally take the PSAT in October of their junior year, any many schools offer it to sophomores as well. When taken in junior year, the PSAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. PSAT scores are typically released in December.

Content

The PSAT is a slightly shorter version of the SAT. Like the SAT, it has four timed sections that are grouped under two main headings: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (RW) and Math. RW contains two sub-sections, Reading and Writing & Language. Students complete one Reading section that assesses their ability to think critically about reading passages, one Writing & Language section that tests grammar and effective writing concepts, and two Math sections (one that permits use of a calculator and one that does not) that test concepts such as algebra, basic statistics, and logic. There is no Essay section on the PSAT.

Scoring

Students receive a point for each correct answer. There is no penalty for wrong answers. The raw scores from the two sections of the PSAT — Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Math — are converted to scaled scores between 160 and 760, and these scores are added together to create a total score between 320 and 1520. Students are also assigned a percentile ranking that compares their scores to others nationwide.

Preparing for the PSAT

We incorporate the PSAT into a student’s overall test plan in order to build a solid foundation for upcoming tests and to maximize scores on the PSAT itself. Preparing for the PSAT helps students gain familiarity and experience with the format of the test and emphasizes test-taking techniques and fundamental skills that will help students on the PSAT and future tests.

For more information on the Pinnacle Prep approach, click here.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses the PSAT scores of juniors to determine the recipients of its scholarship awards and merit recognition. Approximately 50,000 students are recognized as commended students or semi-finalists each year. The exact score that qualifies students for commendation is the same nationwide, and it can vary slightly from year to year. Semi-finalist qualifications are determined by the scores within each state, and they can also change from year to year.

Registration and Test Dates

The PSAT is offered each October. In general, schools automatically register their students for this exam. Virtually all juniors take the PSAT, and some schools offer it to their sophomores as well. Only juniors are eligible for National Merit Scholarship consideration.
For more information on the PSAT, click here.

SAT

Colleges use SAT scores in admissions decisions and to help assess a student’s capacity for college-level work. The SAT is offered many times throughout the year, and students can take it during their junior and/or senior year. Many students take the SAT more than once to achieve their best possible score.

Content

The SAT has four timed sections of multiple-choice questions, grouped under two main headings: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (RW) and Math. RW has two sub-sections, Reading and Writing & Language. The Reading section contains several fiction and nonfiction passages and asks questions that assess a student’s ability to think critically about them. The Writing & Language section analyzes a student’s command of grammatical concepts and ability to identify effective writing. There are two Math sections, one of which permits use of a calculator and one of which does not. Both Math sub-sections test arithmetic, algebra, and some higher math concepts. In addition, there is an optional Essay that asks students to read a nonfiction passage and then analyze and explain how the author crafts his or her argument.

Scoring

Students receive a point for each correct answer. There is no penalty for wrong answers. The raw score for each section is converted to a scaled score between 200 and 800, and these scores are added together for a total score between 400 and 1600. Students are also assigned a percentile ranking that compares their scores with national averages. Most competitive colleges look for scores of 1200 and higher, and the top schools typically look for scores of 1400 and up.

Preparing for the SAT

The SAT is a major component of a student’s test plan. Ideally, preparation begins with the PSAT and continues with multiple SAT tests during junior year. To help students maximize their SAT scores, our tutors analyze individual needs and prepare a learning plan that incorporates math, reading, and grammar fundamentals and writing skills. We emphasize test practice through homework and periodic mock exams. After taking multiple official exams, students can select which scores to send to colleges along with their applications.

For more information on the Pinnacle Prep approach, click here.

Registration Dates and Test Dates

Each test date has a registration deadline and a late registration deadline, for which an additional fee applies. If a student misses the late registration deadline, he or she may apply for waitlist status up until five days before the test date. Because of enhanced security measures implemented in 2012, standby testing is no longer available.

To register for the SAT, click here.

ACT

Colleges use ACT scores in admissions decisions and to predict their ability to complete college-level work successfully. Just like the SAT, the ACT is offered many times throughout the year, and many students take the ACT more than once during junior and/or senior year in order to increase their chances of reaching their goals

Content

The ACT is divided into 4 timed, multiple-choice sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. The English section contains passages that require editing for grammar and usage, as well as questions that evaluate overall comprehension. The Math section tests concepts such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and basic trigonometry, while the Reading section contains four individual passages, each followed by reading comprehension questions. Finally, the Science section tests a student’s ability to read charts and graphs and to draw logical conclusions and inferences from the data given. While it incorporates scientific concepts, the Science section doesn’t require much scientific knowledge — all the necessary information is there!

Scoring

Students receive a point for each correct answer and, like on the SAT, there is no penalty for incorrect answers. The raw score for each of the four sections is converted to a scaled score between 1 and 36. The composite score is the average of the 4 section scores. Students who write the optional essay will receive an additional score between 1 and 36 on the essay. The essay score does not factor into the composite score.

Preparing for the ACT

Since all colleges accept both SAT and ACT scores, and since the SAT and ACT cover almost all of the same concepts and skills, we recommend that students take both the ACT and SAT. To help students prepare for the ACT, our tutors analyze needs and create a learning plan that incorporates math, reading, grammar fundamentals, writing skills, as well as ACT-specific strategies and skills. Students have the opportunity to gain test experience through homework and periodic mock exams. As with the SAT, after taking multiple official exams, students can select which scores to send to colleges along with their applications.
For more information on the Pinnacle Prep approach, click here.

To register for the ACT, click here.

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests cover a variety of academic subjects and are designed to measure a student’s knowledge of specific disciplines. SAT Subject Tests are designed to test material learned in high school classes. Many top colleges require scores from one or more Subject Tests.

Subjects Offered:

Biology–Ecological
Biology–Molecular
Chemistry
Chinese with Listening
French
French with Listening
German
German with Listening
Italian
Japanese with Listening
Korean with Listening
Latin
Literature
Mathematics Level 1
Mathematics Level 2
Modern Hebrew
Physics
Spanish
Spanish with Listening
United States History
World History

Scoring

Students receive a point for each correct answer and lose a quarter of a point for each incorrect answer. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score between 200 and 800. Each test uses a slightly different conversion table; some of the more advanced tests, such as Mathematics Level 2, have a very forgiving curve.

Preparing for the SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject Tests can be a valuable addition to a student’s application portfolio, and they are required by some colleges. We help students analyze which tests would make sense to incorporate into their individualized test plans, and we match students with tutors who specialize in each subject area.

Registration Dates and Test Dates

For a complete list of Subject Test dates and registration deadlines, click here.

Getting into Grad School
Getting into Grad School: GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT

getting into grad school

GMAT

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is designed to measure applicants’ readiness for business school. It is offered at many locations and dates throughout the year, and applicants may take the GMAT up to five times in a twelve-month period, though not more than once every 16 days.

Content

The GMAT has four sections: Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. The Analytical Writing section consists of an essay analyzing an argument. The Integrated Reasoning section contains sets of written information, diagrams, charts, and graphs, followed by questions that draw from multiple sources. The Quantitative section incorporates arithmetic, algebra, and geometry concepts into two types of questions: problem solving and data sufficiency. The Verbal section contains reading comprehension, sentence improvement, and critical reading questions.

Scoring

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test. In the multiple-choice sections (Verbal and Quantitative), test takers are presented with average-level questions at the beginning of the test, and their performance on each question determines the difficulty level of subsequent questions. The Verbal and Quantitative sections are both scored on a scale from 0 to 60. The essay is scored twice on a scale from 0 to 6, and the final Analytical Writing score is determined by the average of those two scores. The Integrated Reasoning section is scored on a scale from 1 to 8.

In addition to the section scores, students will also receive a total score between 200 and 800. Only the Verbal and Quantitative section scores factor into the total score.

Preparing for the GMAT

To discuss the best approach to your GMAT preparation, call us and let us know when you are planning to take the test.

Test Dates and Registration

The GMAT is offered by appointment at various locations throughout the year. To register for the GMAT, click here.

GRE

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a computer-adaptive test that is used by universities to measure prospective graduate students’ qualifications and determine merit-based financial aid. It is offered at many locations and dates throughout the year, and applicants may take the GRE up to five times in a twelve-month period, though not more than once every 21 days.

Content

The GRE has three parts: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. There are two Verbal Reasoning sections that contain reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence questions. The two Quantitative Reasoning sections incorporate arithmetic, algebra, and geometry concepts into three types of questions: problem solving, quantitative comparisons, and data interpretation. The Analytical Writing section consists of two essays, one that analyzes an issue and one that analyzes an argument.

Scoring

The GRE is a computer-adaptive test. In the first section of both the Verbal and Quantitative components, test takers are presented with average-level questions, and their performance on that section determines the difficulty level of the second Verbal or Quantitative section, respectively. Students receive a point for each correct answer; there is no penalty for incorrect answers. Raw scores are then converted to scaled scores, which range from 130 to 170 for both the Verbal and Quantitative sections. The essays are individually graded on a scale from 0 to 6; the average of the two scores is the final Analytical Writing score.

Preparing for the GRE

To discuss the best approach to your GRE preparation, call us and let us know when you are planning to take the test.

Test Dates and Registration

The GRE is offered by appointment at various locations throughout the year. To register for the GRE, click here.

LSAT

The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is designed to measure the critical reading and analytical thinking skills of law school applicants. It is offered four times throughout the year. Students may take the LSAT as many times as they wish (this changed in September 2017).

Content

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) has five multiple-choice sections and an essay. Two Logical Reasoning sections require students to analyze arguments, one Reading Comprehension section tests a student’s ability to think critically about reading passages, and one Analytical Reasoning section requires students to make several deductions based on a given set of circumstances. Each LSAT also contains one Variable, or experimental, section that is not scored.

Scoring

Points are given for correct answers, and no points are deducted for incorrect answers. A raw score is translated to a scaled score between 120 and 180. The essay is not graded, but it is sent to schools for review.

Preparing for the LSAT

To discuss the best approach to your LSAT preparation, call us and let us know when you are planning to take the test.

Test Dates and Registration

To register for the LSAT, click here.

MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based test designed to assess knowledge of scientific concepts as well as problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills. Most students take the MCAT during their junior or senior year of college. Applicants may take the MCAT up to seven times, but no more than four times over two consecutive testing years and no more than three times in any one testing year.

Content

The MCAT is comprised of four multiple-choice sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

Scoring

Each of the multiple-choice sections is graded on a scale from 118 to 132. These scores are then added together for a total score between 472 and 528.

Preparing for the MCAT

To discuss the best approach to your MCAT preparation, call us and let us know when you are planning to take the test.

Test Dates and Registration

The MCAT is offered on various dates throughout the year. For more information on scheduling and registration, click here.

Academic Tutoring
Pinnacle Prep tutors are not only experts in test prep – they also have stellar academic backgrounds, are true specialists in their respective fields of study, and are tremendously effective academic tutors. Many have published works, presented lectures, and taught at the highest levels of their individual fields. Additionally, they have extensive experience with the SAT Subject Tests and the AP exams and are able to provide students with academic support year-round.

We have tutors in subjects ranging from Latin to statistics, from organic chemistry to expository writing, from French to calculus, and from U.S. history to organizational skills. Pinnacle Prep tutors help students meet and exceed their goals, helping them study, review, and clarify material, so that they will not only perform better in school, but also acquire and polish the skills they need to become better students.
academic tutoring

FAQ about Tests

Should I do the optional essay on the SAT or ACT?

Both the SAT and ACT offer an optional essay section. While very few colleges require the SAT essay, many recommend it. Some colleges require the ACT essay, and some may require the essay with one test but not the other! If you already know where you will apply, check those schools’ requirements. If you haven’t yet decided on your college list, we recommend that you go ahead and take the optional essay sections on the SAT and ACT, in order to keep your options open.

Do I need to take Subject Tests? If so, how many?

This depends on where you’re planning to apply. Most highly selective schools recommend or require Subject Tests scores as part of your application.

The number of Subject Tests required varies by school. Most ask for two, although there are a few notable exceptions. It’s a good idea to call the admissions offices or check the websites of the schools to which you are interested in applying to find out how many Subject Tests they require.

How does score choice work?

A few years ago, the College Board began allowing score choice for the SAT and Subject Tests, whereas the ACT has always allowed score choice. Score choice simply means that students can pick which SAT, Subject Test, or ACT scores they would like to send to colleges.

For instance, if Jane takes the SAT in December, March, and May and does best on the March test, she could decide to send only the March scores with her applications. In that case, colleges would not see her December or May scores or even know that she had taken those tests.

There are some restrictions to how score choice can be used. Students must send all or none of the section scores from an individual test date. It’s not possible, for instance, to send Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score from the May SAT without also including the Math score. In addition, some colleges do not accept score choice, so knowing where you are planning to apply can impact the relevance of score choice. However, most colleges will consider applicants’ “superscores” (see below), so it often makes sense to submit more than one score, even when score choice is allowed.

How does superscoring work?

Colleges that superscore consider their applicants’ highest section scores from across all of their submitted test scores. For example, suppose Gary took three SATs and received the following scores:

October SAT: 550 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 600 Math
December SAT: 650 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 540 Math
March SAT: 580 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 670 Math

A college receiving these scores would take the best scores on each section and combine them into a single superscore. An admissions officer glancing at Gary’s file would likely see his test scores reported as:

Superscore: 650 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, 670 Math

Note that Gary did not score a personal best on either of the sections on his October SAT. Therefore, if he is applying to a college that accepts score choice, it would be best to send only the December and March scores.

While nearly all colleges superscore the SAT, many do not superscore the ACT. To learn about a school’s superscoring policy, visit its admissions website or contact the admissions department directly, or call the Pinnacle Prep office — we would be happy to walk you through the complexities and subtleties of score choice and superscoring.

Is there a disadvantage to taking the test multiple times? Does it start to look bad on an application?

Colleges that accept score choice (see above) will not know that you’ve taken the test multiple times unless you elect to send them multiple scores. So it behooves a student to take as many tests as possible — without interfering with schoolwork or causing undue stress, of course.!

A few colleges do not accept score choice and instead require that applicants report all of their standardized test scores. For students applying to these schools, we suggest taking each test no more than 3 times — which means up to 3 SATs and 3 ACTs. The student would then submit all of his or her scores from the stronger test, whether it’s the SAT or the ACT. For many schools, getting a good superscore is much more important than the number of times you’ve taken the test.

Beyond this, the only disadvantage to taking the test multiple times is the possibility of burnout. For many students, it can be difficult to stay motivated during multiple administrations of the same test! Pinnacle Prep test plans are constructed to minimize burnout, and our tutors monitor students carefully to ensure that they are not being worn down by their test load. Please call our office to discuss how many times you should plan to take these tests.