The Truth About ‘Test Optional’

The Truth About ‘Test Optional’

From the Author

Test Optional: Does that mean I can skip taking the SAT or ACT?

Nope.  While it may be easier to apply, it is NOT easier to get in – at all.

Let’s break down this topic into some manageable chunks.

What does a “test optional” policy mean?  It means that schools don’t require test scores for a complete application.  This is in contrast to a “test blind” application policy such as that used by the University of California system and California State University system. These schools will specifically not consider your test scores even if you send them. 

During the pandemic, most colleges announced a change in their application policies for the class of 2021 to a test optional policy because most students had no access to testing opportunities.  Many colleges extended that policy to the class of 2022. However, the University of Tennessee system, Auburn, MIT, and Georgetown have announced that future classes will need to submit scores with their applications, and many other colleges (in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in particular) have already returned to (or never stopped) requiring scores so be prepared for more colleges to follow suit.  You can check the policy of the colleges you’re interested in here.

What happens when a college goes test optional?  Colleges experience at least two changes when they go test optional: average test scores rise and admission rates decrease.  Average test scores rise because students who are lower-scoring do not report their scores, so the overall average rises for the incoming class.  Admission rates fall because students (incorrectly) perceive that it is easier to be accepted and more students apply while the number admitted stays the same. 

These effects were seen again during the 2022 application cycle.  The most selective colleges in the U.S. saw enormous (sometimes even double!) increases in applications from pre-pandemic levels. 

Both of these changes benefit the college, NOT the student.  In some cases, students also benefit from these policies, although that isn’t clear overall.  While test optional does create a new avenue for students who truly struggle with standardized testing; schools clearly value test scores as a validation of grades and transcripts. 

Grade inflation is real. According to the College Board, over 60% of college applicants in the class of 2021 obtained a 4.0 or better. According to ACT, Inc., grade point averages have risen over the last several years while ACT scores have fallen slightly.

According to the GPA data on over 18,000 college freshmen taken from the “American Freshman Survey,” an annual survey done by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA since 1966 (with 2 years missing due to the pandemic), a whopping 80.6% of entering college freshmen report an A average GPA in high school!

Bottom line: while it may be easier to apply, it is not easier to be admitted – at all.  

Should I send my test score?  Briefly, if your scores are additive to your application, you should send them.  If you’re not sure whether your scores are additive, you should probably still send them. Because of the increase in average test scores over the last couple of years, when comparing your score to a prospective university’s range, be sure to look at their ranges pre-pandemic.

According to data from the most recent admissions cycle, students applying with test scores were admitted up to 2.7 times as frequently as students who applied test optional! That’s a clear preference for applications for scores.

While students in the (pandemic) class of 2021 had significantly fewer testing opportunities, students in the class of 2023 have normal opportunities to test.  Selective colleges will expect and receive scores from most applicants.  Like many other “optional” pieces of a college application, the most competitive students will be submitting all the optional pieces, including test scores.

What does the future hold? I don’t have a crystal ball, but if Auburn, MIT, the University of Tennessee system, and Georgetown’s recent decisions are any indication, many test optional policies will continue to revert to test required. According to MIT, test scores help them more accurately assess a student’s readiness for their program.

MIT’s Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill said, “We are reinstating our requirement, rather than adopting a more flexible policy, to be transparent and equitable in our expectations. Our concern is that, without the compelling clarity of a requirement, some well-prepared applicants won’t take the tests, and we won’t have enough information to be confident in their academic readiness⁠ when they apply. We believe it will be more equitable⁠ if we require all applicants who take the tests to disclose their scores.”

In other words, top-tier colleges care about your test scores. They adopted test-optional policies so students who did not have the chance to take the exam due to Covid-19 could still apply. Data coming out (like from here) proves that test scores matter, and it’s possible that other schools will soon follow MIT’s lead in transparency and drop their test-optional policies. In fact, according to a survey by Ernst & Young and the Parthenon Group conducted in 2021, 20-30% of universities surveyed claimed they would likely move back to test-required policies within 3-5 years. Selective schools including Stanford have openly discussed their intent to once again require a college entrance exam score, and Yale has echoed MIT’s sentiments about the importance of test scores when making admissions decisions. 

Other schools, including University of Texas at Austin, University of North Carolina, and certain schools within the University System of Georgia announced a return to requiring college entrance exams and then shortly reversed their decisions. Remember, test-optional policies benefit the school, not often the student, and schools might be slow to relinquish their boost in ratings due to increased selectivity and average test scores. However, as universities continue to follow the path of MIT, it seems likely that more schools, especially those considered selective, will join this game of follow-the-leader.

So what to do? Due to uneven transcripts with uneven high school experiences and very real grade inflation, most college admissions staff view test scores as a known quantity that can validate your application.  A solid strategy is to work toward getting the best score you can but don’t send your scores right away.  Once you are ready to apply, you can decide if your scores help your application if you’re applying to a test-optional school.

As always, Woodlands Test Prep is here to help you through this process. Call us at 713-205-1807 for your free consultation, and we can discuss if test prep tutoring would help your student on their college journey. Remember, we teach; you relax!

Test Scores Can Help Win Merit Scholarships

Test Scores Can Help Win Merit Scholarships

From the Author

At Woodlands Test Prep, we understand that the cost of higher education can be a significant concern for students and their families. We believe that every student deserves access to the best educational opportunities, regardless of financial constraints. That’s why we’re passionate about sharing valuable information on how test scores can help unlock scholarships and pave the way to a brighter future. In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of test scores on scholarships and provide guidance on maximizing your chances of securing financial aid.

The Power of Test Scores
When it comes to scholarships, test scores can be a game-changer. Many colleges and universities consider standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, when awarding scholarships. These scores provide valuable insight into a student’s academic abilities and potential for success in higher education. By earning impressive test scores, you not only demonstrate your knowledge and skills but also position yourself for potential scholarship opportunities.

Merit-Based Scholarships
Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic achievements, and strong test scores play a crucial role in qualifying for these prestigious awards. Admissions committees and scholarship providers recognize that exceptional scores reflect dedication, discipline, and the ability to excel academically. By investing time and effort in test preparation, you can significantly increase your chances of securing merit-based scholarships.

Here are some Texas-based colleges and scholarships that require or highly recommend test scores:

  • Sam Houston University: ACT 29 or SAT 1320 required. The Sam Houston Honors Scholarship is worth $10,000 annually.
  • Texas A&M: High ACT or SAT scores required. The Welch Scholarship varies in amount depending on financial need.
  • Texas Christian University: ACT 30-34 or SAT 1360-1500 recommended. The Founders’/TCU/Faculty/Dean’s/Chancelor’s Scholarships are worth from $12,000 per year to full-tuition.
  • Texas State University: ACT 32 or SAT 1420 recommended. The President’s Honor Scholarship is worth $12,000 per year.

Competitive Advantage
A high test score can give you a competitive edge over other scholarship applicants. When scholarship committees review applications, they often consider a combination of factors, including GPA, extracurricular activities, and personal achievements. However, outstanding test scores can make your application stand out from the crowd, demonstrating your commitment to academic excellence and potential for future success.

National Merit Scholarships
One of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the United States is the National Merit Scholarship Program. This program recognizes exceptional students who excel on the PSAT/NMSQT, a preliminary test taken during the junior year of high school. Students who achieve top scores on the PSAT/NMSQT may qualify as National Merit Semifinalists or Finalists, making them eligible for a range of scholarship opportunities. National Merit scholarships not only provide financial support but also carry significant prestige and recognition within the academic community. Be sure to check out this free and public resource of National Merit Scholarships offered at over 180 colleges (provided by Les Mathew from The Extra Mile College Admissions).

It’s worth noting that the typical Texas A&M National Merit Scholarship package is worth $42,000 over four years!

Maximizing Your Scholarship Potential
To maximize your scholarship potential, it’s essential to prioritize test preparation and aim for the highest scores possible. Here are a few tips to help you on your journey:

  1. Start Early: Begin your test preparation well in advance to allow ample time for study and practice. This will help you build confidence and achieve your target scores.
  2. Create a Study Plan: Develop a structured study plan tailored to your strengths and weaknesses. Utilize reliable test prep resources, practice exams, and seek guidance from experienced tutors or mentors.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice: Regular practice is key to improving your test scores. Familiarize yourself with the test format, practice sample questions, and simulate test-day conditions to build your endurance and test-taking strategies.
  4. Seek Professional Guidance: Consider enrolling in a test prep course or working with a qualified tutor who can provide personalized guidance, strategies, and feedback to help you reach your full potential.
  5. Stay Motivated: Remember the bigger picture—your test scores can open doors to scholarships and educational opportunities that may shape your future. Stay motivated, maintain a positive mindset, and celebrate your progress along the way.

Your dreams of pursuing higher education should never be limited by financial constraints. By understanding the significance of test scores and their impact on scholarships, you can take proactive steps towards unlocking the funding you need. At Woodlands Test Prep, we’re here to support you on your journey, providing expert guidance, resources, and caring mentorship. Start preparing today, and open the door to a future filled with limitless possibilities. Together, we can make your educational dreams a reality.

Need Help Writing Your College Admissions Essay?

Need Help Writing Your College Admissions Essay?

From the Author

Writing a college essay can be a daunting task, but it is also an opportunity to showcase your personality, strengths, and passions to the admissions committee. Here are some key ideas to keep in mind when writing your college essay.

• Choose a topic that reflects your personality and experiences

One of the most important aspects of a college essay is the topic. The topic should reflect your personality and experiences. Admissions committees are looking for students who are unique and have a clear sense of self. Don’t be afraid to be creative and choose a topic that is not typical.  

Jennifer Howard, Woodlands Test Prep’s college essay coach says, “The most important part of the college essay process is taking the time to discover the strengths and stories that make you, you.”

• Use the essay to highlight your strengths and passions

Your college essay is an opportunity to highlight your strengths and passions. This is your chance to showcase what makes you stand out from other applicants. Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points and make your essay memorable.

“Remember,” Ms. Howard says, “you may think you don’t have anything interesting to write about because you haven’t invented the newest tech, won the state championship, or saved the world, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In fact, it’s the little, everyday moments and perspectives that make an interesting essay and showcase your unique personality.”

• Focus on your personal growth and development

The college essay is not just about your past experiences but also about your future aspirations. Show how you have grown and developed as a person and how you plan to continue to do so in college and beyond. This will demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are a thoughtful and reflective individual.

• Use a clear and concise writing style

It is important to use a clear and concise writing style in your college essay. Avoid using jargon or overly complex language, as this can be off-putting to the reader. Instead, use simple and direct language to convey your ideas. Make sure to proofread your essay carefully for spelling and grammar errors.

• Show, don’t tell

Instead of simply stating that you are passionate about a particular topic or activity, show the reader through specific examples and anecdotes. This will make your essay more engaging and memorable.

• Be authentic and honest

Finally, it is important to be authentic and honest in your college essay. Don’t try to be someone you’re not or pretend to have experiences that you haven’t had. Admissions committees can usually spot insincerity and it can hurt your chances of being accepted.

Writing a college essay is an important and often challenging task, but it is also an opportunity to showcase your unique personality, strengths, and passions to the admissions committee. By choosing a topic that reflects your experiences, highlighting your personal growth and development, using a clear and concise writing style, showing rather than telling, and being authentic and honest, you can create a compelling essay that sets you apart from other applicants.

According to Ms. Howard, “The college essay is the part of your application that makes you more than a GPA, test score, or list of accomplishments–it makes you human. Don’t waste that opportunity.”

Join Jennifer Howard this summer in our College Essay Workshop, so she can help you bring out your unique qualities to best showcase YOU!

At Woodlands Test Prep, we teach, so you can relax.

The Digital SAT: A Brave, New Frontier

The Digital SAT: A Brave, New Frontier

From the Author News Tests

Revised February 1, 2023

Visit our new Digital Adaptive SAT Page with ALL the scoop you need.

The College Board announced that the SAT will be going digital in March 2024, and the PSAT will be going digital in October 2023.  As if *that* isn’t big enough news, they are also changing the format substantively to be more student-friendly.

Update: The first widely available practice tests are available! Click here to download the app and check out the new format!

So What’s Changing?


  • Same scoring format, still on 1600 scale
  • Shorter overall test time – approximately 2 hours instead of 3.25 hours
  • Adaptive scoring – performance on the first section of topic affects the difficulty of the second section
  • Much more time per question
  • No more long reading passages
  • Built in Desmos graphing calculator for ALL math questions


  • Moving to an all-digital format – bring your own device or use one of the College Board’s
  • Students will still test at a testing center
  • Students will install the testing app prior to testing day
  • Digital PSAT will be much the same as the Digital SAT in structure
  • Much faster score receipt – in days rather than weeks
  • Accommodations will be handled in the digital environment
  • National test dates will remain unchanged; many more choices for School Day dates

Overall, the changes are good for students!

When Is All This Happening?

First up, the PSAT will be Digital Adaptive in 2023 – this coming fall! Then, the regular SAT will switch completely to the Digital Adaptive format in March 2024. The Class of 2025 – this year’s sophomores – have several choices to make.

What Does That Mean For My High School Student?

If you are a junior this year (Class of 2024), you won’t see any changes. Just keep on doing your thing!

If you are a sophomore this year (Class of 2025), this change affects you significantly. See the table below for options, and contact us to schedule a free consultation to help you navigate these changes.

Note: If you are aiming for National Merit in 2023, prepping will be more complicated due to the switch. We are ready to help you navigate the new format with confidence!

If you are a freshman this year (Class of 2026) or younger, this will all be old news by the time you get there. You’ll be able to choose between paper ACT and Digital Adaptive SAT.

As always, Woodlands Test Prep is on top of the change to the Digital Adaptive PSAT and SAT. We look forward to helping with all your questions!

Not Just One College Ranking to Rule Them All

Not Just One College Ranking to Rule Them All

From the Author Uncategorized

Every summer, the well-known U.S. News and World Report releases its U.S. News Best Colleges List, ranking more than 11,500 schools, each vying for as close as they can get to that #1 spot. Students and parents hurry to see which schools made it into the top ten, hoping to start sending their college applications and essays to the schools highest on the list. However, college ranking lists are not like The Lord of the Rings: There is no one ring, or list, to rule them all. There are, in fact, many different college rankings.  Depending on your priorities, different rankings help to see other facets of those college application choices.

As one of the oldest ranking systems, U.S. News and World Report is the most famous vehicle that families use to decide which schools are the “top schools.” However, what students and parents should realize is that there are actually many ranking lists out there, and they all have different methods of ranking schools. You can explore multiple ranking systems to tell you what are the best schools for the criteria they’re measuring. To get started, you and your child need to ask yourself, “What matters most to ME for my college experience?” You might consider a specific major, student outcomes and success, affordability, cultural aspects such as sports or art programs, and many more. 

So what is U.S. News Best Colleges really telling you?

U.S. News Best Colleges considers a multitude of factors. They consider graduation and acceptance rates, class sizes, GPA and test scores of students, student debt after graduation: all categories you might expect. However, one unique category is called “peer opinion.” This category accounts for 20% of a college’s overall score. What is peer opinion? U.S. News asks the president, provost, and dean of admissions of each school to rank other schools on a scale of 1-5. The higher opinion they have of that school, the higher up the list the school goes. This ranking system means that the same ancient ivy leagues and selective schools remain at the top: everyone’s heard of them and knows them to be a “good” school. Therefore, if you’re only looking at this one list, you’re really looking at prestige.

If prestige is not what matters most to you, it’s time to begin the important process of thinking about who you are and why you’re going to college. Search for college ranking lists that prioritize the same criteria that are important to you. Below are a few lists we recommend and what you can find out from reviewing them.

Academic Influence

Created by data scientists, this website ranks thousands of universities using a program they have dubbed the InfluenceRanking engine. Their goal is to create lists that are as unbiased and ungameable as possible, so you can make an informed decision about where to go to school based on your likelihood of success, along with other criteria you can filter for such as major, online programs, and affordability. Academic Influence measures what they consider “influence”: How many students graduate from that college who go on to have influential careers in their fields, and how influential are they? If your main focus is post-graduate success in your field of study, this may be the ranking system for you.


Niche ranks based on recommendation: What are real people saying about the colleges and universities they’ve attended? They rank schools using millions of ratings, reviews, and surveys. Along with general rankings, they have some unique categories that might help you determine the best school based on what’s important to you, such as best athletic programs, social scenes, or campuses. You can also filter based on the major you’re interested in. Start with this list if your most important criteria is the college experience.

Colleges That Change Lives

CTCL is a nonprofit organization that helps students to consider more than the big, selective schools. They coach students on how to find a school that fits them with questions to ask and topics to consider. Their brochure “How to Choose a College That’s Right for You” is a great place to start if you don’t know what you’re looking for. They also have resources for senior year anxiety and how to make the most of your campus college visit. CTCL member colleges are small liberal arts colleges and universities with holistic admissions processes, challenging and supported academics, residential communities, and schools that offer aid to make learning more affordable.

(Edit added 4/20/2023) New York Times

The New York Times recently published an article pointing out the variety of criteria that a student might base his or her college decision on along with a meta-list creation tool. You can weight a lot of different factors to see how your list might change. It’s dynamic and pretty fun!

What’s the bottom line?

There is no one list to rule them all. U.S. News Best Colleges’ ranking system is the best known, but it is not the only college ranking system out there. Find out what is important to you and make that criteria the center of your college search.

Unpacking the PSAT and Change to Digital SAT Seminar

Unpacking the PSAT and Change to Digital SAT Seminar


Wondering what your PSAT scores mean? Watch our seminar from December 8th to learn more about your PSAT scores and what they mean.  We also discussed the switch to the Digital PSAT coming up next year! Finally, we touched on how you might be able to become a National Merit Scholar. Click here to learn more about when and how your PSAT scores will be available.

Watch the seminar here

Download the presentation with our notes here

The Road to Becoming a National Merit Scholar

The Road to Becoming a National Merit Scholar


What is “National Merit” and how do I enter?

The National Merit Scholarship Program is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in cooperation with the College Board to recognize high achieving high school seniors. Entry into the competition is based on junior-year (only) PSAT/NMSQT scores. The NMSC awards approximately $50 million in scholarships each year, and some colleges provide additional scholarships to recognized students, multiplying the net impact of National Merit many times.  For example, Texas A&M offers over $40,000 per student in scholarships, and UT Dallas offers scholarships that cover all tuition, fees, and up to $50,000 of other expenses!

To enter, you must take the PSAT/NMSQT as a high school junior and either attend high school in the United States or U.S. Territories or be a U.S. student studying abroad. Entry into the program is based on your Selection Index; you can find your selection index on your PSAT score report.  To calculate it, take the sum of your reading + writing + math section scores (two-digit numbers) and multiply by two.

Note to Current Sophomores on the New Digital Adaptive PSAT

Current sophomores (class of 2025) will be taking their PSAT on paper in the fall. However, in the Fall of 2023, the new Digital Adaptive PSAT only will be offered, meaning that the usual “warm up” for junior year won’t be the same for this year’s sophomores.   College Board has indicated that they will release four SAT practice tests in mid-October in the new testing platform.  One has already been released! In the meantime, focus on core skills (the skills tested on the digital PSAT will remain the same as those on the current paper test), and then prep for the digital PSAT during summer 2023.

The Road to Becoming a National Merit Scholar

If you’re interested in becoming a National Merit Scholar,  let’s look at the timeline on how to make this dream a reality. Also check out our upcoming National Merit Scholar Seminar!

(Junior Year)
The road officially begins your junior year in October, when millions of students take their PSAT and are entered into the National Merit Scholarship Program.
(Junior Year)
NMSC will ask high school principals to identify any errors or changes in the reported eligibility of students whose scores will qualify them for recognition in the fall of 2023. At this point, the Commended cutoff score becomes widely, although unofficially, known.
(Senior Year)
Semifinalists are recognized in early September.  Semifinalists are allocated proportionally by state, i.e. the more graduating students a state has, the more Semifinalists that state will have. Therefore, some states have higher cutoffs for their scores than others. Traditionally, students in Texas need to have a Selection Index score between 218 and 221. The Texas Semifinalist cutoff for the class of 2023 is 219.  Semifinalists advance in the competition.  Commended students are recognized in late September.  While Commended students don’t advance in the competition, it looks great on college applications and some colleges even award scholarships based on Commended status.  The cutoff for the class of 2023 is 207.
(Senior Year)
National Merit Semifinalists must complete an application, which includes submitting an essay and a recommendation from your school. The application also allows you to choose your “first choice” school, which is an important step: whatever school you choose is the only school you can receive scholarships from. You can always change your choice later. Semifinalists must also have a “confirming score:” an SAT or ACT score that confirms your PSAT performance.  This score must be completed by December.
(Senior Year)
Finalists are notified. Approximately 95% of Semi-Finalists are named National Merit Finalists.
(Senior Year)
Scholarships based on the school you listed as “first choice” on your application begin to be awarded. Many schools offer a National Merit scholarship of $500-$2500 per year. 

So What Should I Do?

Current Juniors

The time for test prep begins during the summer between your sophomore and junior year. If you think you have what it takes to be a National Merit Scholar, sign up for our Goal 1600 class during the summer or one-on-one tutoring.  All our classes provide individualized attention, tailored assignments, and focused feedback in a small group setting.  They  are both fun and effective, helping students achieve their testing goals. Our Goal 1600 class is specifically designed for students aiming for National Merit Semifinalist scores. This class goes quickly through the regular content and focuses then on strategy and practice for the hard questions. In order to help ensure students are in a class that best suits them, students must meet a minimum SAT score (or equivalent PSAT score) of 1300 to be admitted to the class. To check out our current classes, click here.

If you would prefer to work one-on-one with one of our expert tutors, we offer private tutoring in your home that covers all the material and meets students where they are. To sign up for one-on-one tutoring, click here.

Current Sophomores and Younger

Focus on your core skills of reading comprehension, grammar and rhetorical techniques, and math competence.  Use the results from the PSAT as a guide to what areas need attention.  One specific suggestion is to dramatically increase the amount of challenging non-fiction reading.  The vast majority of the test (even the math section!)  is based on non-fiction reading and most students don’t get enough opportunities.  We’ve developed a great list of free, online resources to work on non-fiction reading comprehension.

Our Difference

Woodlands Test Prep has helped 25 students become National Merit Semifinalists in the last 5 years. We have specialized in the SAT, PSAT, and ACT for 11 years.  We are the experts on these tests. Every one of our tutors has the heart of a teacher and loves what they do. Check out our website at to find out more information about our tutoring services and classes, or give us a call at 713-205-1807 to get a free consultation today.

Woodlands Test Prep celebrates 10 years of helping students achieve their test best

Woodlands Test Prep celebrates 10 years of helping students achieve their test best


Woodlands Test Prep is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2022!  Growing from a solo tutoring practice to a full-service educational services company, Woodlands Test Prep has carefully put together a full set of tutoring services, including test prep for the SAT, PSAT, and ACT and academic and AP tutoring for math, science, history, language arts, and foreign language subjects.  

We sat down with Susan to talk about her ten years in business: how her company was created and how it has impacted The Woodlands community.  What originally began as a small side hustle has ended up becoming one of the most influential tutoring services in The Woodlands.  

Meet the Founder

Susan started tutoring in 1995 as a hobby. When asked what drew her to tutoring, she said: 

“I’ve always loved standardized tests. I just think they’re fun. Even as a kid, I thought they were fun. So I’ve obviously always been a little bit weird ha ha!”

Indeed! This “weird” love for tests made Susan an engaging tutor, which she found was exactly what students needed to succeed. After taking a break from teaching SAT and GMAT classes in order to raise children, she was ready for a side hustle and realized that what had been her fun hobby could become her business. Susan said:

I asked myself, what do I like doing? And I thought, okay, I like tests.  Then I started Woodlands Test Prep, and it honestly grew far beyond any expectations I ever had. Pretty soon I had a number of tutors working for me and was doing practice tests for the library and for schools here in the area. It’s been a joy from the beginning.”

It’s obvious that she and her team of tutors not only have fun teaching students how to succeed on their college entrance exams but are experts in the field of test prep as well. Over the past several years, Susan’s average scores have been a 1580 on the SAT and a 35 on the ACT, and she only hires tutors who show a similar affinity for these tests. With a love for tests and tutoring and Susan’s honed curriculum, she and her team of expert tutors are ready to help any student succeed. 

To stay up-to-date, Susan is an active member of the NTPA (National Test Prep Association), where she collaborates with other test prep professionals.  She also was featured on the podcast Tests and the Rest on episode 231. All this professional development is passed on to her tutors and also shared via her blog on Woodlands Test Prep’s website. You can read expert information along with Susan’s professional thoughts and opinions on everything from the new digital SAT to what test optional really means for your student.

About Woodlands Test Prep and Its Services

Woodlands Test Prep is experienced in helping every student meet their greatest potential.  Taking the SAT, ACT, or PSAT is a skill that can be learned and polished. Whether your student needs help with math, science, language arts, or social studies, they can help.  No matter where your student is starting, focused test preparation and academic tutoring helps not only improve a student’s score or grades, but also their confidence.  Susan commented: 

“Our team of tutors is really without peer.  I feel so lucky to have each and every person on the team.  Only tutors with both heart and serious academic chops make the cut to join our team.  Each tutor is genuinely an expert in the topic or skills he or she is teaching, besides just being a ton of fun to be around.”

They provide customized test preparation several ways: one-on-one in-home tutoring, small class format, and proctored practice tests. Working this way allows them to uniquely target your student’s needs.  They provide proven, successful strategies and skills. Plus, they identify and polish any test content areas that need attention.

For high-achieving students, they offer a “Goal 1600 Class” each summer designed to push them even further. In the last five years, 25 of their students went on to become National Merit Semi-Finalists!

Test prep tutoring is an investment in your student’s future, but it is also a financial investment that can have a significant return. Not only can it help students get the score they need to get into college, but it can open doors for grants and scholarships that might have been previously closed. Here’s what one mom had to say about it:

My daughter took one-on-one tutoring this summer to raise her ACT score to get accepted to A&M. She met with an amazing tutor once a week who coached her, and then she also took the practice tests available through your organization before taking the ACT a second time. Thanks to her score, as well as other aspects of her application, she is now going to be Texas A&M Class of 2026! 

The return on investment was outstanding, as her backup school was offering her $3,000/year renewable for four years due to her ACT score and her class rank. For anyone wondering if your service is worth the cost, please let them know it was for us.

If your student needs support for academic success or if college is a part of your student’s future, Woodlands Test Prep is just what your student needs to succeed. Call them today to learn how they fit into your child’s journey to college and beyond.

Click here to learn more about Woodlands Test Prep or call (713) 205-1807 to set up a session today!

Tests and the Rest Podcast

Tests and the Rest Podcast

From the Author Podcast

Woodlands Test Prep’s founder and CEO, Susan Powers, was recently featured on Tests and the Rest podcast, a podcast devoted to the college admissions process. Tests and the Rest hosts Mike and Amy said Woodlands Test Prep “improves students’ scores, supports students’ academic success, and helps families navigate the college admissions testing process with much less stress.”

Time to Think About Test Prep

Time to Think About Test Prep

From the Author

When Is It Time to Make Your Test Prep Plan?

Parents and students often wonder: When should I start thinking about the SAT and ACT?  To best position yourself or your student for the college application process at the beginning of senior year, students should start creating their college admissions testing plan at the end of their sophomore year or toward the beginning of junior year, ideally.  If you’re later than that, you’re still ok!  Here are the steps to get you started:

1. Get a baseline score for both the SAT and ACT.

While many students took the PSAT as sophomores at school this year, many students did not due to the pandemic.  Also, in general, far fewer high schools give practice ACT tests so those opportunities are more limited.  Students can take an official practice SAT or ACT or both in several different ways: at home at the kitchen table for free, via our new proctor videos, or participating in one of our live proctored exams (Test Flight Club).  There’s no need to take a national test date in order to find out which test suits your student better.

2. Once you have a baseline for both SAT and ACT scores, decide which test is the better fit.  We can work together to decide which test is a better fit for your student.  

3. Decide what testing calendar best suits your student. Here are some general suggestions:

  • Students who are taking Algebra II as juniors:  Plan to take either the March SAT or April ACT.  Test prep can begin after the Christmas holiday.  Student can then retake in either late spring or early fall or both.
  • Students who will have completed Algebra II by the end of sophomore year:  Think about extracurricular schedule and academic load in the junior year.  Most students will benefit from starting test prep in the summer and taking their first test in the fall to get the majority of the skill building finished over the summer.  However, if students have extremely heavy extracurricular schedules in the fall (Football, Marching Band, Cheerleading, Color Guard, etc.), they make choose to push their first test to the spring and follow the above schedule.  Students who choose to test in the fall have the opportunity to retest anytime in the spring and still have time to retest again early in their senior year if desired.
  • Students who scored particularly well on the PSAT in 10th grade:  Plan to prep for the PSAT over the summer.  The PSAT in junior year serves as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Competition.  Even if the ACT looks like the better fit from a college admissions testing perspective, students who scored particularly well on the PSAT in 10th grade should consider making a real effort to maximize their score on their junior year PSAT.  They can then take either the October or November SAT to lock in their qualifying score should they become National Merit Semifinalists.

4. Plan on allocating at least two months to test prep.

    Test prep is really much more about practice than it is about content. You do need to decide what tactics work best for you, how to best allocate your time, and how to recognize the many patterns on the test, but really making a difference in your score comes down to putting in the practice.  We offer Test Flight Club twice a month where students have the opportunity to take a full length proctored practice test, receive immediate results, and have a two hour Q&A-style group tutoring session with one of our most expert tutors.  We have seen amazing results with students who have put in the practice!

    Remember also that almost every student will take either the SAT or ACT twice, and most students will take it three times. So keep in mind that the process is more of a marathon than a sprint and be patient with yourself.

We know that there are a lot of moving pieces when deciding how and when to work on test prep. Let us know how we can help! We love helping people with their questions!