What You Should Know About Changes to the SAT and ACT

Timing is everything—especially when it comes to college admissions tests.

For the past decade, students have all followed the same timeline for testing. Generally, students prepared in the summer and fall of their Junior year, then took the test in the spring. They could also pick whichever test felt more comfortable: either the SAT or ACT. But with changes coming to both the ACT and SAT over the next two years, students have to change much of this timeline.

Below are some quick recommendations on how to handle this transition period. The general rule of thumb is to take the test when you are ready, and to take the test that has changed the least at that point. Keep in mind that this is a general guideline….each student is unique, and may have additional factors to consider in making this decision.


JUNIORS: Class of 2016

Relax, because the new testing material will have little effect on you. You can take either test, and follow the traditional timeline. If you choose to take the SAT, you will be done with your tests before the change happens. If you choose to take the ACT, just plan to finish your last test in the spring of your Junior year to avoid the new, slightly modified test in the fall of your Senior year. Remember, you will need to take the test 2-3 times, so plan accordingly.

SOPHOMORES: Class of 2017

Unfortunately, you will be the class that really feels the transition. But fear not! There is a plan for you, too. For most of you, the best option is to commit to the ACT. There will be a few small changes to the ACT, but for the most part very little will change. With fewer changes than the SAT, there is less risk in taking the ACT. You can take the exam at the traditional times in your Junior and Senior years.

The only case in which you should prepare for the SAT is if you can take the test before the SAT changes. To make this plan work, you will have to prepare for the SAT beginning in the spring of Sophomore year and through the summer after Sophomore year. Then you will take the SAT in the fall of your Junior year: the first time in October and the second time in November. The old SAT will be offered one last time in December of your Junior year. Use that December test as a backup, in case you need to take the test three times.

Your class will be the first one to take the new PSAT in the fall of your Junior year. There is no option for you to take the old PSAT. But remember that the PSAT is not submitted as part of your college application, so no need to stress.

FRESHMEN: Class of 2018

The changes to the SAT and ACT will happen before you are ready to take the exams, so you don’t have the option to take the old versions. For most of you, the best option is to commit to the ACT. There will be a few small changes to the ACT, but the changes will be almost unnoticeable. With fewer changes than the SAT, there is less risk with the ACT. You can take the exam at the traditional times in your Junior and Senior years.

If you are in the Class of 2018 and have to take the new SAT for some reason, stay tuned. By the time you are ready to start prepping, the College Board will have finalized the new version of the SAT and released much more information. Chyten will also have new data and plenty of preparatory materials to help you prepare and make the best decisions regarding the new SAT.


Asheville students’ SAT scores are the best in North Carolina

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction released new information Tuesday showing how well North Carolina high school students performed on the SAT college admission test in 2014.

According to The College Board, the state’s seniors averaged 1483 this year, up four points from 2013 graduates. The number of students taking the SAT this year dropped slightly to 57,997, which is 64 percent of all eligible students.

The department reported in a press release that North Carolina’s critical reading score (499) surpassed the nation’s reading score (497).

In the 18 westernmost counties of the state, overall results showed that students in Asheville and Watauga County school systems scored the highest among the region’s 20 school systems. The lowest-performing countywide systems for the year were in Swain and Rutherford counties.

For county-by-county and school-by-school results, see the table below.

SAT Data For Asheville



Start early! 12 reasons tutoring will help your child succeed

High school parenting means being concerned about many things. Naturally, one of the major areas of focus is your student’s academic success. You want your student to learn. You want your student to get good grades. You want your student to have multiple doors of opportunity after graduation.

Working with a good academic advisor will help your student make the course and schedule choices that are appropriate. Some of the most successful students may be those who have mastered three important skills. They understand the importance of doing well; they have learned the skill of good time management; and they seek the support or help that they may need early in the game.


An important source of support, often overlooked until too late, is the help of a tutor – for a specific subject or for several subjects. Tutoring is not necessarily a remedial function, but rather like having an academic personal trainer. Good students know how to take advantage of the possibilities of good tutoring – early in the semester before trouble starts.

Why not wait for tutoring until trouble happens?

Getting help with course work is always a good idea – no matter when it happens. Even when it occurs at the last minute, getting help with a paper, or help understanding important concepts, or help studying for a test, can make a difference. However, starting early to work regularly with a tutor – especially for a difficult subject – can make a significant difference.  Here are twelve reasons why starting tutoring early can help your student.

  • Real learning takes time. Starting with a tutor early in the semester gives your student a chance to learn concepts slowly and solidly.
  • Early work with a tutor helps your student grasp foundational concepts on which more difficult work may be build. Getting the basic building blocks early can prevent difficulty later in the semester; it’s a proactive approach.
  • Beginning early with a tutor means that there is time to change tutors if that is necessary. All tutors are not alike. If the match-up isn’t right, there is time to make changes before crunch time occurs.
  • Beginning early means that your student and his tutor will have time to get to know one another. They will have time to establish the rapport that can make a difference in how they work together. The more that the tutor works with your student, the more he or she will get to know his or her strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.  This means that the tutor will know best what areas need to be addressed and what style of approach will work best.
  • Early work will mean that early homework assignments will be done correctly. This translates to a higher grade average and less jeopardy occurring later in the semester. It lowers the stakes for one major event such as a midterm or final exam.
  • A tutor will hold your student accountable for completing work. This will help your student with time management skills and will also mean that your student may simply be spending more time with the material than she would otherwise.
  • Your student will learn early some of the important study techniques of successful students.  The tutor serves as an important role model as your student learns how to “do high school” successfully.
  • The classroom teacher will see that your student is taking the course seriously and working hard to do his best work.  That message of effort is important.
  • Your student will receive constant feedback on his work.  In some courses, continual feedback may not come from the teacher. There may be only one or two major tests or papers. Receiving early and continual feedback from a tutor helps your student stay on track.
  • Your student may build confidence in his learning abilities as he successfully navigates work that the tutor may assign.  This may help with his motivation to continue to do well.
  • When the busy tutoring season of midterm or final exams occurs, a student who has an established relationship and schedule with a tutor may be given priority of time. Tutors who are extremely busy or in demand are more likely to give priority to regular tutees.
  • Your student will establish a relationship and make a new friend – a role model of good academic skills as well as a role model of helping others.

Tutoring is highly successful if the student truly seeks and understands the importance of the help. If your student has had difficulty in the past, or has made some mistakes along the way, working with a tutor can be an ideal way to get help with his fresh start.


How to prevent summer learning loss

Summer will be here before you know it, and if you think that time should be all play and no work, take a look at statistics which resulted from a recent study at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning:

  • All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
  • On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.
  • A majority of students (56 percent) want to be involved in a summer program that “helps kids keep up with schoolwork or prepare for the next grade”.
  • Research shows that teachers typically spend between 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.

So what can you do to prevent learning loss, or to encourage your child to continue the learning process all year round? At Chyten, we recommend creating learning opportunities as often as possible. If you can send your child to a summer camp where they will be academically stimulated as well as physically engaged, then that’s a great place to start. If you are planning a vacation, why not think of your summer vacation as a teachable moment? You can often get your kids reading, doing math or learning geography without them even realizing it! We also encourage children of all ages to use sites like GeoGuessr, where a child is virtually plopped down somewhere on the map, with only Google StreetView to help them guess where they are.


For high schoolers, encourage them to look into summer programs at local universities, many of which are geared towards getting them in tune with the college experience while engaging them in an area of interest (this also looks great on a college application, regardless of where a student applies). If they are concerned about their upcoming fall schedule, encourage them to engage in some pre-learning, working with a tutor to preview that difficult material. That way, when they start the class, they will already be ahead of the group and poised to do well. And if they haven’t yet achieved the test scores they’d like, a summer ACT or SAT class is a great idea.

Chyten Announces Summer Boot Camp Dates!


SAT Summer Boot Camps

Chyten’s popular Summer Boot Camps provide a comprehensive overview of the SAT and include a combination of skill-building exercises and test-taking strategies for tackling the test’s hardest questions. Classes meet each day for one week, from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, with a short break for lunch. There is a total of 24 hours of test preparation. All books and materials, along with two actual conditions tests (delivered outside of class time), are included in the $985 tuition.

Chyten’s Summer Boot Camps are a perfect solution for student-athletes or for students with extremely busy schedules during the school year! Students will be warmed up and ready for the first exams of the fall!

SAT BOOT CAMP ALPHA July 14 – 18 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP BETA July 21 – 25 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP CHARLIE July 28th – August 1 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP DELTA August 4 – 8 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP ECHO August 11 – 15 9:00 – 2:00

Chyten Announces SAT and ACT Summer Boot Camp Dates


SAT Summer Boot Camps

Chyten’s popular Summer Boot Camps provide a comprehensive overview of the SAT and include a combination of skill-building exercises and test-taking strategies for tackling the test’s hardest questions. Classes meet each day for one week, from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, with a short break for lunch. There is a total of 24 hours of test preparation. All books and materials, along with two actual conditions tests (delivered outside of class time), are included in the $985 tuition.

Chyten’s Summer Boot Camps are a perfect solution for student-athletes or for students with extremely busy schedules during the school year! Students will be warmed up and ready for the first exams of the fall!

SAT BOOT CAMP BETA July 21 – 25 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP CHARLIE July 28th – August 1 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP DELTA August 4 – 8 9:00 – 2:00
SAT BOOT CAMP ECHO August 11 – 15 9:00 – 2:00

How to Choose a Test Prep Service


Maureen McGovern, January 10, 2014

As juniors gear up for SATs and ACTs and high school students of all ages prepare for AP exams, it’s the time of year when parents begin to explore options for test prep. The number of choices of companies and individual tutors offering preparation services can bewilder an unprepared family. How does a responsible parent choose the best?

Don’t let sticker price guide you

Many companies offer tempting deals on low-price classes, but make sure a class is the best option for your child. For a number of students, especially those who already have a strong base score, the information given in a group setting is too basic. You might get more bang for your buck with a series of private sessions targeted to address your child’s particular weaknesses. Chyten makes a special effort to tailor any and all instruction specifically to your child’s needs!

Pick the best coach for your child

Some companies hire employees without a background in the subject they tutor or have classes taught by adults with no background in the field of education. These tutors may have little training in how to individualize instruction and may employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Chyten Educational Services in Asheville, however, requires that all tutors have at least a Masters degree (several have a PhD)and the owner prefers tutors who have experience adapting curricula to students at many different levels. We look for master teachers – tutors who are comfortable working with many different students.

The best tutor for your child is the one who understands your child’s needs and is willing to do what it takes to meet them.

Real SAT, ACT and SSAT Tests

Choose a service that offers plenty of real practice tests. The benefit of an “actual conditions” test is two-fold: you will gain real-time data on progress and the student will acclimate to the rigors of test-taking.

Finally, think of test prep as an investment. Everyone knows that the ACT and/or SAT scores are used for college admission, but many don’t realize that the scores are also a factor in scholarship awards from nearly all colleges and universities.

An engaging teacher. An inspired plan. Daring to dream higherand bigger doesn’t just happen. Dreams need a spark. Chyten provides that spark with proven steps, systems, and strategies for success. But these factors only begin to describe the Chyten difference. Chyten has made a difference in so many lives; now it is time for us to help your child reach and exceed your expectations. Put the experienced Chyten Asheville tutors to work with your child.

Contact us at (828) 505-2495 or at asheville@chyten.com.



Five myths about college applications and financial aid

Saving for college, applying for admittance and getting financial aid can all be complicated processes, so it’s not surprising that many myths have sprung up about paying for education.

The following five myths, however, can wind up costing you dearly:

1. Saving for college hurts financial aid.

Saving in a child’s name — such as in a custodial account — definitely has a big negative impact on potential financial aid, since financial aid formulas expect 35 percent of the student’s assets to be spent each year on college.

Money in 529 college savings plans, on the other hand, typically has little impact, since it’s counted as a parental asset and less than 6 percent of the balance will be counted against financial aid.

Income counts far more heavily than assets in determining financial aid, in any case. The more income you make, the more colleges will assume you’ve saved for college, whether you actually have or not.

Meanwhile, most financial aid these days comes in the form of loans. That’s why Stuart Ritter, senior financial planner for T. Rowe Price, suggests substituting the phrase “massive debt” for “financial aid” when you hear someone say they’re afraid saving for college will hurt a child’s ability to get financial aid.

“What they’re really saying is they’re afraid they’ll hurt the child’s ability to get massive debt,” Ritter said.

2. We aren’t rich, so we will get financial aid.

First, understand that financial aid experts didn’t design the Free Application for Federal Student Aid used by most schools to allot financial aid. Congress did. And Congress regularly tinkers with it, further increasing its complexity. So any relation between the FAFSA’s assessment of your financial resources and your actual ability to pay may be purely coincidental.

Okay, that’s a little harsh, but I’m regularly contacted by parents who are flummoxed by how much they’re expected to pay. Again, income counts heavily, and those with higher incomes can’t expect much need-based help regardless of their expenses.

“I have attended several paying-for-college seminars and found their estimated contributions quite sugar-coated compared to the reality,” one mother wrote, after her family’s “expected family contribution” for a younger daughter turned out to be $43,000. The family’s six-figure income meant they would getlittle help.

Even those who earn much less can struggle to pay their share. The woman’s older daughter, who was 23, was expected to pay about a quarter of her income for graduate school, the mother wrote.

“How can someone earning $25,000 pay for an apartment, phone, car insurance, food, taxes, etc. AND be expected to pay almost $6,000 in college costs?” the mother wondered.

3. If I have financial need, colleges will fill it.

Only about a third of public institutions and fewer than one out of five private schools are committed to meeting 100 percent of their students’ financial need, according to a 2008 study for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The vast majority of colleges instead engage in “gapping,” which means they deliberately leave a gap between a student’s demonstrated financial need and what the institutions are willing to provide in terms of grants, scholarships, loans and work study.

Just 10.2 percent of Loyola University Chicago undergraduates have their financial need fully met, according to College Board statistics, and, on average, the school meets just 79 percent of undergraduates’ financial need.

The statistics at New York University are even worse: just 4.4 percent of undergraduates have their financial need fully met, and overall the university meets an average of 55 percent of financial need.

4. Private colleges are always more expensive than public schools.

At first glance, this would seem obvious: the average published tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year institutions was $8,893 in 2013-14, according to the College Board, compared to $30,094 for private four-year schools.

But colleges are like cars: few people pay the sticker price. And sometimes private schools discount their prices enough to make them competitive with public schools, said college consultant Deborah Fox of Fox College Funding in San Diego.

Also, you may be paying for more years of school with a public institution. Only about one in five public college students graduates in four years, compared to about half of private college attendees, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.

5. My kid can work his way through school.

Working your way through community college is certainly do-able, and some motivated students support themselves long enough to get a four-year degree.

Butstudy after study has made the point that the more hours a student works, the more likely he or she is to drop out. It’s simply harder than it used to be to get an education on one’s own.

The real cost of college has more than doubled since 1980. Also, Congress tightened the rules dramatically on who is considered “independent” for the purposes of financial aid, making it much harder for undergraduates trying to do it on their own.

Read the full article here!

Offbeat essay prompts gauge student creativity

As legions of high school seniors polish their college applications, plowing through predictable essay topics about their lives and goals, they might also run across something like this: “Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it.”

A small but growing number of select colleges have turned to off-kilter questions like that one, part of this year’s application to the University of Chicago, or like this one, from Brandeis University: “You are required to spend the next year of your life in either the past or the future. What year would you travel to and why?” This year’s most-discussed question, from Tufts University, was about the meaning of “YOLO,” an acronym for “you only live once,” popularized by the rapper Drake.

And even those are tame compared with some choices from the last few years, like “If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs or aliens, who would you pick?” (Brandeis), or “What does Play-Doh have to do with Plato?” (Chicago).

For the colleges, such questions set them apart, though the applications invariably give a choice of subjects, including some that are closer to traditional. And at a time when some elite colleges worry that high school students are more likely to be high achievers than independent thinkers, oddball essay questions offer a way to determine which of the A-student, high-test-score, multi-extracurricular applicants can also show a spark of originality.

Most elite colleges use the Common Application, which contains fairly standard essay questions, and require their own supplemental applications, with more writing exercises.

“In the day of the Common App, there’s such a sense of sameness in applying to the different schools, so we’re trying to communicate what’s distinctive about us and determine what’s distinctive about our applicants,” said Andrew Flagel, the senior vice president for students and enrollment at Brandeis.

A quirky essay subject can seem like a burden to students who, already stressed out by the application process, find that being diligent and brilliant is not enough — that colleges also want them to be whimsical and creative. Teenagers pepper social media with complaints about the questions, though they do not want to be interviewed, for fear of alienating their colleges of choice.

But others embrace the chance to express themselves, seeing it as a welcome relief from the ordinary applications.

“Usually, the essay prompts are boring,” said Sam Endicott, a high school senior from Edmond, Okla., who said he chose the University of Chicago’s topic on explaining a joke. “They don’t inspire a whole lot of creativity. I like the ones that allow more free rein to be a little different.”

Looking at the same application, Matt Bliss, a senior from Portage, Ind., seized on the invitation to make up his own topic. Recalling that one of the University of Chicago’s essay choices last year was “So where is Waldo, really?” he wrote his essay on “Can Waldo find himself?”

“I see it as a way to really show the college, ‘This is me,’ to establish your voice as a writer and show that you’re willing to take a risk,” he said.

Most students prefer — and are better off — avoiding the unusual questions, said John B. Boshoven, a counselor at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“There are the kids who find it just invigorating, but they are not the majority,” he said. “The linear, sequential, mechanical kids of the world usually don’t want to play that game, no matter how smart they are.”

Counselors and private admission consultants say quirkier questions are more of a challenge for students getting a late start and feeling the pressure of an application deadline — usually November for early admissions or January for regular admissions — and for overseas students.

“In the next few days, I’m going to be seeing stressed-out seniors trying to bang these things out and wondering why they’re bothering,” said Don McMillan, a consultant based in Boston. “And we’ve got kids from Brazil or Nicaragua who are going to have trouble even getting the joke, much less know how to answer it.”

The University of Chicago, well known for its off-the-wall questions, began asking them in the 1980s and invites current students and recent alumni to submit ideas. The results have become more unorthodox over the years, producing applications in the last decade that have offered topics like “Destroy a question with your answer” and, in reference to the industrial-size products at some big-box retailers, “Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.”

When asked whether the past question “How did you get caught?” exposed unsavory behavior or whether this year’s query about a joke elicited anything obscene, John W. Boyer, the dean of the undergraduate college, said, “As long as it doesn’t violate the criminal laws of the State of Illinois, it’s fine with me.”

In recent years, unusual questions have appeared on applications for other colleges, including Tufts, Brandeis, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania and Hamilton College (which once asked, “If you were reduced to living on a flat plane, what would be your greatest problems? Opportunities?”). But some of those institutions have reverted to more traditional essay topics, and the unorthodox approach remains limited to a relative handful of elite universities.

Dr. Boyer said the questions had helped build the University of Chicago’s identity; years after graduation, alumni often remember their essay topic.

“It requires a little bit of wit and more than a little bit of imagination,” he said. “We want to give students an opportunity to be unconventional in a pushing-the-boundary sense and see what they can do.”

Read the full article here.

SAT and ACT classes begin in early March!