Dear Parents and Guardians,

In response to the current educational environment and requests for guidance from our parents, we at The CERTA Learning and Research Center are offering our families the following suggestions when it comes to developing an education testing plan.

When many of us began our academic preparation, it was a much simpler time. For almost all of our parents who grew up on the East Coast, they probably just sat for an SAT examination. Today, the majority of our families still have an SAT first mindset for their children. However, the current educational climate has greatly complicated this decision. We at The CERTA Learning Center strongly believe and advise our parents to create a sensible testing plan that is in the benefit of their children. All too often, parents start test preparation weeks before the actual assessment. For most students, this is too late and does not offer the developmental time that is necessary to excel on such exams. Therefore, we would suggest the following developmental program:

  1. Our Math Plus Program for students in grades 5 and 6 to help gear up for high school entrance examinations;
  2. Our high school placement preparation courses (e.g., CHSEE, TACHS, ISEE, SSAT, and HSPT preparation courses);
  3. Our Math 89 courses as a Pre-PSAT preparation;
  4. Our PSAT program to aid in the development of skills necessary for the SAT and ACT;
  5. Our SAT and ACT programs;
  6. Our individual tutoring in SAT subject tests and Advanced Placement tests.

Given the substantial changes to the SAT, we suggest that parents strongly consider having their children take the ACT starting in the spring of 2016 for the following reasons:

First, there are several theme changes in the redesigned SAT. These changes include the following: 1) A Math Test that emphasizes a narrower but deeper grasp of algebra, de-emphasizes geometry, and puts more questions in real-world contexts; 2) Reading, Writing, and Language Tests that require students to cite evidence for their answers, analyze writing, and discern common vocabulary words that have multiple meanings (i.e., Tier 2 vocabulary definitions) from context; and 3) Questions and content that better reflect the work that students undertake in the country’s “best high school courses.” Second, the Redesigned SAT will return to the 1600-point scale. Third, the new test will include an overhauled essay section, including making it optional (However, any students selecting a competitive college or university will be strongly advised to complete the essay). Fourth, the new test will include a no-calculator math section. Fifth, it will also include right answers-only scoring (i.e., no penalty for wrong answers). And sixth, the Redesigned SAT will parallel the ACT in that it is transitioning from an aptitude test to an achievement test. Aptitude tests imply prediction; they provide a basis for predicting future levels of performance. To this end, high-school students’ SAT scores, along with their grade point averages, have been used by college counselors to predict success in college. In contrast, achievement tests measure students’ present levels of knowledge, skills, and competence based on what has been learned in school. This means that the content on the Redesigned SAT will be more aligned with the achievement test construct.

Until we see how the Redesigned SAT exams are scored as well the statistical analyses from the first set of test administrations, we suggest that preparation for the ACT exam is strongly considered.

In addition, we know four more things about the Redesigned SAT. First, it will reward achievement over aptitude. Second, there will be some parts that look a lot like the ACT, namely the Language Test as well as credit for right answers and no penalty for selecting incorrect answers. Third, we know that the underlying skills that students need will place a strong emphasis on Common Core State Standards. And, fourth, the Redesigned SAT will attempt to tap Advanced Placement (AP) skills. These skills include citing evidence and rhetorical analysis in verbal sections, and real-life problem-solving situations in mathematics.

For the past 30 years, all of us at The CERTA Learning Center have been driven by passion, informed by research, and focused on your child’s success. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to progress from acceptable to exceptional performance.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


The Faculty of the CERTA Learning Center