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FAQ

Answers about Elite

Why Elite?

A lot has changed in the field of education these past twenty-five years. The SAT has gone through two major revisions. College admissions have grown increasingly competitive due to a dramatic increase in the number of school-age children. High school students can now take AP classes in new subjects such as Chinese Language and Culture, Economics, and Environmental Science. College coursework on a high school student’s transcript has now become standard fare on applications to the most competitive colleges.

But one thing over the last twenty-five years has remained constant: Elite Educational Institute’s commitment to helping our students maximize their academic potential and realize their educational dreams. From humble beginnings as one branch in Southern California in 1987 to more than thirty-five branches worldwide two decades later, Elite's faculty and staff that have remained true to the principle that the success of our company relies on the success of our students. No other company can match the kind of individualized attention, personalized academic advising, and sophisticated curriculum that Elite provides.

How do I enroll?

It's easy! First, complete the online registration form. Then, contact your local branch to schedule a diagnostic exam and an introductory parent/student counseling session with the Branch Director or Assistant Director.

Who are Elite's teachers?

Elite's expert educators and counselors care deeply about the success of their students. All of our instructors have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, and many have, or are in the process of attaining, a Master’s degree or Ph.D. At Elite, we only hire the best: teachers who are experts in their fields and who display the necessary energy and enthusiasm to effectively engage their students.

What lesson plans does Elite use?

Elite Educational Institute has its own Curriculum Research Department, which creates, maintains, and updates our curriculum every year.

Where are Elite's classes taught?

Elite has thirty-six branch locations in six countries. Each of our branches works hard to create a stimulating, challenging learning environment that instills self-confidence and discipline in our students.

What does it cost to attend Elite's programs?

Program availability and pricing varies slightly by branch. Please contact your nearest Elite branch for pricing details.

How do I know if I need test prep?

Take a practice test to see how you'll score! Contact your nearest Elite branch any time to schedule a free practice test. Then, you'll have an idea of where to start and which Elite classes might be right for you.

 

SAT Reasoning Test

What's a good SAT score?

2400 is a perfect score on the SAT. As of last year, the national average SAT score was 1500. To set a goal for yourself, it's a good idea to do some research on the colleges and universities you're interested in attending. Almost all schools have minimum GPA and SAT score requirements, and many of them publish the admissions information of their current freshmen students. Checking out that data will give you a better idea of where you stand.

A higher SAT score can significantly improve your chances of being admitted to the schools you want to attend.

How old do I have to be to take the SAT?

Some students take the SAT in 7th or 8th grade in order to apply for certain talent-identification programs. If you take the SAT this early, however, you will need to retake the test in high school, even if you do very well, as colleges expect a relatively recent score to indicate how good a student you are now.

When should I start preparing for the SAT?

It depends what you mean by preparation. It's never too early to build fundamental academic skills. Reading a large number of books is the best way to get a head start on learning vocabulary and critical reading. Very young students will not benefit much from memorizing vocabulary lists, however, or from drills with actual SAT questions. Unless you need to take the test early for a scholarship program, wait at least until you have completed Algebra-I and Geometry. Most students start studying for the SAT by the fall of junior year.

Is the SAT an I.Q. test?

The notion of I.Q. is rather vague, and many experts dispute the idea that intelligence is a single thing. They believe that there are multiple forms of intelligence. But even if there is such a thing as general intelligence, the SAT does not measure it directly. The mathematics sections measure proficiency in applying basic mathematical concepts up to algebra and geometry. The critical reading sections measure reading comprehension skills and knowledge of English vocabulary. The writing sections measure your ability to write a short, impromptu essay on a general topic and to correct someone else's writing to the standards of formal written English. All of these are learned skills, not some inherent intelligence.

I have high grades in school, so I should get a high score on the SAT, right?

Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not. Because the SAT doesn't directly test the subjects you study in school, some students under-perform on the SAT because they are unfamiliar with the format and particular question types that appear on the test. The combination of an excellent GPA and mediocre SAT scores can be a red flag for admissions officers, who may suspect that your school is not as rigorous in its grading as it should be.

Is it true that I shouldn't take the SAT in October because that's when all the really smart kids take it?

No. This is a persistent rumor among many parents and students, but it is completely false. There is no way to "game" the SAT by avoiding a particular test date. You should choose a test date based on your own readiness. You should not worry about who else might be taking the test with you.

The rumor depends on the assumption that SAT scores are calculated by "curving" the results of each test in a simple way that doesn't take into account possible differences in the abilities of test takers from test date to test date. The actual process that ETS uses, however, is much more elaborate and takes into account the fact that both the difficulty of the test and the skill level of those taking it may differ between any two tests.

The method used is known as a "common-item nonequivalent group design." That basically means that the new group of test takers is linked to a reference group by comparing how they do on items that both groups take. That's one of the purposes of the unscored equating section.

If you're insatiably curious as to the details of how this works, you can find a non-mathematical introduction to test equating on the ETS website, although it does presume some knowledge of statistics. If you already have a good grasp of statistics, and want the mathematical details, see Kolen and Brennan (2004) Test Equating, Scaling, and Linking, 2nd ed. Springer.

I've heard that you lose a fraction of a point for each incorrect answer. Does that mean I shouldn't guess?

It's often to your advantage to guess. The quarter point deduction for multiple-choice questions adjusts for the chance that you may randomly guess the correct answer to a problem. So random guessing is unlikely to raise or lower your score significantly. In other words, random guessing usually has the same effect as leaving the question blank.

However, if you can eliminate any answer choices because you are confident that they are wrong, you should guess from the remaining choices. Each eliminated answer choice increases chances you will get the right answer. In non-random guessing, you will, on average, gain more points for correct guesses than you will lose for incorrect ones.

What's the difference between the SAT Reasoning Test and the PSAT?

PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT. It is designed to familiarize you with the kinds of questions you will see on the SAT, to suggest how you may do on the real SAT, and to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. Most sections of the PSAT contain the same types of questions you will see on the SAT, although test is shorter and the questions a little easier, on average.

The PSAT is given to sophomores and juniors, but only juniors are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. Your PSAT scores are reported to your high school. They are not sent to any colleges to which you apply.

What's the difference between the SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT Subject Tests?

The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly called the SAT-I) is designed to test your general math, verbal and writing abilities. The SAT Subject Tests (formerly called the SAT-II) test your knowledge of specific academic subjects such as math, chemistry, biology, history, and foreign languages. The SAT Subject math tests cover more advanced topics than appear on the SAT Reasoning Test. The SAT and subject tests are usually offered on the same day, but you cannot take both at the same time. The SAT is a four-hour test. The subject tests are each one hour long, and you may take as many as three on any one test date.

Not all subject tests are offered every test date. Check the schedule carefully when planning the tests you will take.

If I take the SAT more than three times, are my scores averaged?

No. Each score from each time you take the SAT will be reported separately.

Although this procedure seems fairly obvious, the rumor about averaging persists. Its probable source is a misunderstanding about the notion of a "true score," which the College Board mentions in some of its material. Your true score is a hypothetical number that represents the score you would get if there were no measurement error. In other words, if a test could perfectly measure your ability, it would give a true score. A little thought, however, will show that this is never possible.

Imagine, for example, that I want to test your overall vocabulary knowledge. I could not realistically test you on every word in even a fairly short dictionary (you thought four hours for the SAT was bad!), so I would need to pick a subset of words to test. If I'm careful, I can pick a representative subset, but as soon as I do so, chance factors come in to play. You may, by sheer luck, have learned a word on the test that most people find obscure. If your knowledge of other, equally obscure words is not so good, your score on this test will slightly overstate your true ability. Similarly, the test may expose a gap in your knowledge that doesn't reflect your general competence in other areas. Your score, then, might understate your true ability.

The upshot is that the observed score on this or any other test won't necessarily match your true score. If the test is well designed and has no systematic biases, we can infer your true score by taking the average of many observed scores, since the measurement errors will tend to cancel each other out.

So if you take the SAT many times (and do no studying between retakes so your underlying ability doesn't change), the average of all your scores would approximate your true score. But all of this is only of theoretical interest. Colleges only look at your observed scores. They do not attempt to calculate a true score by averaging. (Even if they were so inclined, you would need significantly more than three data points to get a good approximation of a true score.)

If I take the SAT more than once, can I combine my highest scores on each section when reporting them to colleges?

Some schools, Stanford and Princeton, for example, do allow you to combine the highest score from one subject with a score from another subject on different test when you report your scores on the college application. For example, if you receive a 650 Math, 600 Critical Reading, 650 Writing in one sitting, and a 550 Math, 700 Critical Reading, 600 Writing in another sitting, you would report scores of 650 Math, 700 Critical Reading, 650 Writing. Not all colleges follow this practice, so check your admissions material carefully. Whether a school allows combined scores or not, this combination only applies to the self-reported scores you enter in your application. The official test report that the College Board sends directly to colleges will include all scores from every time you took the test.

How many times can I take the SAT?

There is no limit to the number of times you can take the SAT, but students who take the SAT many times often find their scores do not improve significantly with each retake. If you have already taken the SAT several times, it may make sense to retake it if you have been studying hard and improving your basic skills. If you are simply hoping to get lucky and raise your score a little, you're probably wasting your time and money.

What does 'SAT' stand for, anyway?

Nothing at all. When the forerunner to today's test was first given in 1901, it was named the "Scholastic Achievement Test" and looked very different from today's test. It was renamed the "Scholastic Aptitude Test" in 1941 to reflect the idea that the test measured a student's innate ability to do academic work, independent of the quality of the student's schooling. But since you can improve your score by studying, it was questionable that the test ever really measured aptitude. In 1990, the College Board conceded the point by renaming the test the "Scholastic Assessment Test." But this name is redundant, since an assessment is a test, so in 1994, the College Board declared that "SAT" was just the name of the test and had no particular meaning. In other words, the name "SAT" was kept because it is a familiar brand, but the College Board has distanced itself from the notion that the test measures aptitude.

 

PSAT

What's the difference between the SAT Reasoning Test and the PSAT?

PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT. It is designed to familiarize you with the kinds of questions you will see on the SAT, to suggest how you may do on the real SAT, and to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. Most sections of the PSAT contain the same types of questions you will see on the SAT, although the test is shorter and the questions, on average, are a little easier.

I've heard that you lose a fraction of a point for each wrong answer. Does that mean I shouldn't guess?

It's often to your advantage to guess. The quarter point deduction for multiple-choice questions adjusts for the chance that you may randomly guess the correct answer to a problem. So random guessing is unlikely to raise or lower your score significantly. In other words, random guessing usually has the same effect as leaving the question blank.

However, if you can eliminate any answer choices because you are confident that they are wrong, you should guess from the remaining choices. Each eliminated answer choice increases chances you will get the right answer. In non-random guessing, you will, on average, gain more points for correct guesses than you will lose for incorrect ones.

 

SAT Subject Tests

What's the difference between the SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT Subject Tests?

The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly called the SAT-I) is designed to test your general math, verbal and writing abilities. The SAT Subject Tests (formerly called the SAT-II) test your knowledge of specific academic subjects such as math, chemistry, biology, history, and foreign languages. The SAT Subject math tests cover more advanced topics than appear on the SAT Reasoning Test. Many colleges use SAT Subject Test results when making admissions decisions and when determining which courses to place students in. Submitting your SAT Subject Test scores is a great way to supplement your applications and show colleges the subject areas in which you excel.

The SAT and subject tests are usually offered on the same day, but you cannot take both at the same time. The SAT is a four-hour test. The subject tests are each one hour long, and you may take as many as three on any one test date. Not all subject tests are offered every test date. Check the schedule carefully when planning the tests you will take.

I've heard that you lose a fraction of a point for each wrong answer. Does that mean I shouldn't guess?

It's often to your advantage to guess. The quarter point deduction for multiple-choice questions adjusts for the chance that you may randomly guess the correct answer to a problem. So random guessing is unlikely to raise or lower your score significantly. In other words, random guessing usually has the same effect as leaving the question blank.

However, if you can eliminate any answer choices because you are confident that they are wrong, you should guess from the remaining choices. Each eliminated answer choice increases chances you will get the right answer. In non-random guessing, you will, on average, gain more points for correct guesses than you will lose for incorrect ones.

Should I take the SAT Subject Tests? If so, which ones?

That depends on where you're planning to apply. At the most selective schools, SAT Subject Tests can be just as important as the SAT or ACT. Each college has its own guidelines regarding Subject Tests. For example, Caltech, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, and Princeton all require at least two Subject Tests. Other schools (and particular programs within those schools) recommend or strongly recommend certain SAT Subject Tests. Many schools don't require or explicitly recommend them, but will consider Subject Test results when making their admissions decisions. If you're planning to apply to the University of California, you should know that each UC campus has different recommendations and requirements, so be sure to carefully check the admissions requirements and recommendations for every school you're considering.

Generally speaking, you should take two or three SAT Subject Tests in the areas that will showcase your talents the most. Do you think you'll score best in Chemistry and Physics? Add those to your list. If you're planning to major in English or Pre-Law, the Literature and U.S. History Subject Tests might be good choices. Take the SAT Subject Tests that you will score the best on, and the ones that fulfill the requirements of the schools to which you're going to apply.

When should I take the SAT Subject Tests?

The optimal time is usually during May or June of your junior year. It's likely that you'll be the most prepared at the end of the school year when the subject matter will be fresh in your mind.

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Copyright © 1987 - 2014, Elite Educational Institute. All rights reserved. Elite® is a registered trademark of Elite Educational Institute. SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board. ACT is the registered trademark of ACT, Inc. All test names and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders, who are not affiliated with and do not endorse Elite Educational Institute.