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ARISTOTLE ASSOCIATES
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Organizational Assistance
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This section of the website is intended to provide families with answers to their most common questions, as related to standardized tests, academics, and our policies. We have devoted a lot of time to assembling this information in the hope that you will find the answers you are looking for. Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions that remain. Especially for those who have never hired tutors or attended university in the US, the whole process of providing extra help or simply fulfilling application requirements can be overwhelming. Aristotle Associates is happy to provide its perspective and advice, where appropriate, so please feel free to contact us.

Standardized Testing:
Q: When are the test dates and registration deadlines for the SAT Reasoning Test and Subject Tests?
Q: When are the test dates and registration deadlines for the ACT?
Q: Should I take the ACT or the SAT or both?
Q: My ACT score is x. What would an equivalent score on the SAT be (or vice versa)?
Q: How good are my SAT Subject Test scores?
Q: What does the SAT Reasoning Test consist of?
Q: How long is the SAT Reasoning Test?
Q: How long is the ACT?
Q: What are the different SAT Subject Tests that I can take?
Q: How many SAT Subject Tests does a college applicant need to take?
Q: Should I get a few SAT Subject tests out of the way by taking them on the same day?
Q: Can I choose which SAT scores to submit? What about ACT scores?
Q: How are my raw scores determined for the SAT and ACT?
Q: What are scaled scores?
Q: How does the essay affect my SAT or ACT scores?
Q: When is the right time to start preparing for the SAT?
Q: Does the PSAT really matter?
Q: How frequently should my child get tutoring to prepare for his upcoming standardized test?
Q: Does Aristotle Associates guarantee an increase in score? How much improvement should I expect to see in my child's score?

Academic Tutoring
Q: How often should my child get tutoring to quickly raise his grade in his worst class?
Q: What should I do if I can’t afford as much tutoring as my child needs?
Q: Where does the tutoring take place?
Q: What do I need to provide for the tutoring session?
Q: What resources do you provide?
Q: What can I do if I think my child has a learning disability?
Q: I have a paper due in the next few days. Can I hire Aristotle Associates to write it?
Q: I think my child’s problem is less about understanding the material and more about study habits. Is this something Aristotle Associates can address?

Aristotle Associates’ Policies
Q: When and how do I pay for the sessions?
Q: What are the fees for the different services?
Q: What is the minimum amount of time for an appointment?
Q: Do you have a cancellation policy?
Q: Does Aristotle Associates have a money-back satisfaction guarantee?

Standardized Testing

Q: When are the test dates and registration deadlines for the SAT Reasoning Test and Subject Tests?
A: All information regarding SAT dates and deadlines can be found at the College Board website:
            http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/calenfees.html
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Q: When are the test dates and registration deadlines for the ACT?
A: Information about ACT dates and deadlines can be found at the ACT website:
            http://www.actstudent.org/regist/dates.html
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Q: Should I take the ACT or the SAT or both?
A: I always encourage students to take both tests, for several important reasons:

  • The tests are very similar, and in preparing for one, you essentially prepare for the other. Although the Science portion of the ACT has no corollary on the SAT, the grammar and reading portions of both tests are very similar, and many questions from the math sections could be found on either test.
  • Both tests have their positives and negatives, and in the end, it’s a wash. For instance, the ACT has longer individual sections, so it’s easier to squander time if the student is not actively tracking it. Also, the math on the ACT touches on more difficult topics, such as the graphs of trigonometric functions and matrices. However, 5 extra minutes for writing the essay, coupled with generally easier topics for the essay make the ACT appealing. So does the fact that a wrong answer and a blank answer count the same – zero points - students really like being told to guess freely. Downsides to the SAT include a heavier reliance on vocabulary, an experimental section that uses up your precious energy and has no bearing on your score, and the fact that a student must complete 10 different sections is usually psychologically difficult. On the upside, the math is a little easier, and the writing multiple choice questions can become formulaic with extensive practice. So really, no test is easier than the other.
  • It is difficult to predict results with accuracy, so you might do better than expected on the one test, and worse than expected on the other. In the end, having more results gives you more flexibility. You can always choose which scores to use down the road – the important thing is to prepare carefully for each test you take, and not to put too much stock in the idea that one is easier or better than the other.
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Q: My ACT score is x. What would an equivalent score on the SAT be (or vice versa)?
A: There is no precise formula for converting an SAT score to an ACT score or vice versa. However, you can compare the percentile rankings for one score to those of the other, and that does give you a reasonable point of comparison. Below are links to those figures.

SAT Reasoning Test Percentile Rankings (Composite):
Click here

SAT Reasoning Test Percentile Rankings (By Section):
Click here

ACT Percentile Rankings (Composite and by Section):
Click here

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Q: How good are my SAT Subject Test scores?
A: This depends on a lot of factors, from what the student’s potential is to what schools he or she is applying to.  Prior to taking a test, students can discuss with their tutors what might be a reasonable target score.  To see how your score compares to other students’ scores, you can see the percentile rankings, by Subject Test, here: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/sat-subject/scores/average

And the percentile rankings are available here:
http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/2010-sat-subject-test-percentile-ranks.pdf

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Q: What does the SAT Reasoning Test consist of?
A: The test consists of three sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math.  Each section is scored from 200 to 800. For more detailed information about each section, follow this link: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/about/SATI.html
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Q: How long is the SAT Reasoning Test?
A: The SAT Reasoning test consists of 10 sections: seven of 25 minutes, two of 20 minutes, and one of 10 minutes. This adds up to 3 hours and 45 minutes. Students only get one or two short breaks – usually less than 5 minutes each.
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Q: How long is the ACT?
A: The ACT consists of 5 sections: English, Math, Reading, Science, and the Essay (optional, but those who want to use their ACT score instead of the SAT must complete this portion of the test). The time allotted for each section, respectively, is 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 35 minutes, 35 minutes, and 30 minutes. This adds up to 3 hours and 25 minutes. Students only get one or two short breaks – usually less than 5 minutes each.
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Q: What are the different SAT Subject Tests that I can take?
A: Specific information about each of the different tests is available here: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/about/SATII.html
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Q: How many SAT Subject Tests does a college applicant need to take?
A: It depends on the schools that he or she is applying to. Most schools require students to take two different Subject Tests (such as the UC schools), but some require three while others don’t require any. Please consult the schools you are intending to apply to for their specific requirements.
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Q: Should I get a few SAT Subject tests out of the way by taking them on the same day?
A: No!  It’s much better to spread out your SAT Subject tests over as many test days as possible.  The best reason for this is that students can become very fatigued taking multiple tests back-to-back, resulting in lower scores. With adequate planning, there is no need to take three tests on the same day. Taking two Subject Tests, while still tiring, is much more manageable than three.
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Q: Can I choose which SAT scores to submit? What about ACT scores?
A: For the SAT Reasoning Test, you cannot specify which sections you want to submit from a given test. You must either submit scores from all three sections of the test (Math, Critical Reading, and Writing) or submit none of them.
For the SAT Subject Tests, the College Board has recently changed its policy regarding the score reporting. You can now choose exactly which scores you want to submit. So if a student takes three tests on one day, he or she can choose which ones to submit to colleges. For more information, go to: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/score_choice.html In the past, students could only choose which scores to submit by date (meaning for a given date, the student had to choose to send them all or to send none of them), so this is a positive development. However, I would recommend taking no more than two tests on a given day, as fatigue becomes a significant factor into the third hour. With sufficient planning, there is no need to take more than two on a given day.

For the ACT, you must submit either all the scores from a test or none of them, just like the SAT Reasoning Test.
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Q: How are my raw scores determined for the SAT and ACT?
A:  Scaled scores are the numbers that are reported to colleges for the SAT and ACT tests. Raw scores are converted to scaled scores by the organizations that administer the test (the College Board and the American College Testing Program). On the SAT, students earn three different scaled scores (for Math, Critical Reading, and Writing) that range from 200 – 800, giving a total SAT score in the range of 600 – 2400. On the ACT, the scaled scores for each section (English, Math, Reading, and Science) range from 1 to 36. Unlike the SAT, which adds the individual scaled scores to yield an overall result, the ACT averages the 4 scores (rounding to the nearest integer) to give an overall result between 1 and 36.
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Q: What are scaled scores?
A: Scaled scores are the numbers that are actually reported to you and to schools.  Scaled scores range from 200-800 for each section of the test; the composite score, which adds together the scores for the three sections, ranges from 600-2400. These numbers are based on raw scores, which are then adjusted based on how other students performed on the same day. For this reason, your raw score will be scaled higher when the other students taking the test do poorly, and when the others do very well, your scaled score will be lower. In this way, the test makers ensure that the statistical distribution of scores is consistent from day to day.
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Q: How does the essay affect my SAT or ACT scores?
A: For both tests, the essay is scored by two graders from 0 to 6, so the total score for the essay is between 0 and 12. On the SAT, this score affects the scaled score for the Writing section (although the points earned (raw score) for the multiple choice questions are weighted more heavily than the essay), and the essay score is also reported alongside the overall Writing scaled score. On the ACT, though, the essay is its own section – it does not affect the scaled score of any of the other four sections of the test.
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Q: When is the right time to start preparing for the SAT?
A: Remember, juniors take the PSAT in October and can take the SAT in January, March, May, or June. The best time to start preparing for the College Board tests (PSAT and SAT Reasoning) is in August, just before the start of the junior year. There are several reasons:

  1. Although the PSAT results really only "matter" for those very few (top 0.5%) American students who earn National Merit Scholarships, I have found that a poor result on the PSAT can have lingering negative effects for the SAT. Students can get the idea that they just aren't cut out for this type of test, hurting their confidence in the long-term. And confidence is key – so preparing before the PSAT is an excellent idea. Also, this allows a more natural timeline to absorb all of the different information that is important for the SAT.
  2. The January SAT is not far behind the PSAT, and if students continue their preparation "straight through," they will be ready for the SAT in January, which is ideal for the following reasons:

    1. You can order the "Question-and-Answer Service" for the January test, meaning you will receive the actual questions from the SAT (the test booklet), which is extremely helpful in determining the topics you need to review most. This is only available for three tests per year (October, January, and May). See http://sat.collegeboard.org/scores/verify-sat-scores for more information.

    2. Scores are scaled in comparison to others who take the test on the same day, and the worse your competition does, the higher your scores will be scaled. Historically, the January test date gave a big advantage to students because the competition was noticeably weaker. The reason is that most juniors wait until March to take the test, meaning the majority of those taking the test in January are seniors. Well, if you are a senior and you still don't have a good score by January, then you are not going to MIT or any other very selective school. This trend has changed in the past, at least in certain areas, as more juniors are taking it in March. So the advantage isn't as great as it once was, but it is still there.

    3. a. This sets up a student to retake the SAT in March, hopefully for the last time. Unless there are very unusual circumstances (a car alarm went off all night the day for the test, for example), a student should not take the test more than twice – assuming he or she conscientiously prepared for each one. Finishing the SAT Reasoning by March frees up the May and June test dates for SAT Subject Tests; that is the ideal time for students to take them if they correspond to AP exams, which are in May. In other words, students should take the Subject Tests when they are in the middle of their AP preparation (or shortly after it).

    In short, by starting early, the students reduce their stress level and improve their chance of scoring higher. It also allows them to finish their standardized tests by summer, leaving the fall open for college applications and class work. (Don't underestimate the amount of time required to complete the applications – they are a ton of work!) It could be that a student will have to take a Subject Test in the fall, but that is much easier to prepare for than the SAT Reasoning Test, which covers so many different topics.
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Q: Does the PSAT really matter?
A: The PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, so yes, it is important. Students who qualify for this honor will be recruited by the top universities in the country, and it is a nice addition to any college application. And for those who don’t qualify, it is important to start off on the right foot. One bad score could damage a student’s confidence regarding the SAT—even if the student did poorly because he was simply unprepared, he might instead conclude that he is not a good tester. This is a terrible first step to take, as those beliefs can directly interfere with a student’s progress, self-esteem, and work habits.
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Q: How frequently should my child get tutoring to prepare for his upcoming standardized test?
A: The short answer is: as much as possible. The more practical answer is that every student must find the balance between homework, standardized tests, sports, family, friends, having a life, etc. There is no magic number—it really depends on how much time the student has, both to meet with the tutor and between appointments to work on assignments, and what the family's budget is. The typical student spends an hour and a half per week during the school year with a tutor and between one and a half and two hours per week completing assignments. This schedule is typically maintained for a period of months leading up to the test. However, we are happy to put together a plan for any amount of time and budget. With less tutoring time available, we would be sure to cover the most important points and to give more assignments (both reading and practice questions) for students to work through on their own. Please contact us and we can discuss a customized plan that works for you.
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Q: Does Aristotle Associates guarantee an increase in score? How much improvement should I expect to see in my child's score?
A: Because there are so many factors influencing a student's score—whether she has slept enough, whether she has a cold that day, whether she has done the practice homework that we've assigned—that we do not guarantee an increase in score. In fact, we believe such guarantees are misleading. What we do guarantee is that the student will better understand the test, the material it covers, and the most important strategies related to the SAT. And ultimately, these are the most important ingredients to increasing a student's score. That being said, we have posted our recent results for the international students that we have worked with on the SAT: [link to International SAT Classes page]
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Academic Tutoring

Q: How often should my child get tutoring to quickly raise his grade in his worst class?
A: If a student is really struggling with one particular class, then it can be helpful to meet twice a week or even three times a week until the student is caught up. As a tutor helps the student get back on track, they will go back through old tests, quizzes, homework, and other assignments, working at a pace that is right for the student. Of course, some time will have to be spent on current material as well, but usually when a student gets behind, it is impossible to understand and complete current assignments without first going back through the older material. Then, once this process is complete, and the student is working more independently, it can be a good idea to cut back to once or twice a week. Typically, once a week is the minimum for a class that has been challenging for a student.
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Q: What should I do if I can’t afford as much tutoring as my child needs?
A: There are many things that you and your child can do to bring up his grade that don’t cost much:

  1. Organization. Make sure the student has an orderly, organized area to work in. If he is unwilling or incapable of organizing the papers and books in his room, then start by creating places for all his things. If he has no place designated to store his papers, then it’s no wonder they end up crumpled in his backpack or stuffed into a crowded binder. Take stock of what must be organized. The most frequent categories include notes and handouts from class, graded work (homework, quizzes, tests, and projects), and work to turn in. Label folders or dividers for each category, in each class, so that when they are in his hand, he knows right where to put them. Then check in with him each week to see if he’s doing what he’s supposed to. If he’s not, find out why, and help him to either improve upon your system or build the habit. It is hard to change our behaviors, and sometimes by simply reminding him (not nagging him) to take care of his things, you can help him become more cognizant of his need to do so.
  2. Get free help. Teachers are available to help students outside of class, and many schools have volunteer tutors on campus at certain times. Make it a priority to find out all the different times that this free help is available by talking with teachers, administrators, principals, or whoever else might coordinate such programs at your child’s school. Then help your child schedule appointments, and consider setting up a reward or punishment system that correlates to how well your child follows through. This is one way you can teach your child to become an independent learner: by pointing out the resources available and teaching him to accept the available assistance.
  3. Ask teachers and other parents for suggestions. Surely your child’s struggle is not truly unique, and more often than not, people are more than happy to share the solution they came up with to solve their problem. You might be surprised to learn that a neighbor or relative can be extremely helpful in making suggestions. The important thing is not to give up. Continue to support your child and help him to succeed. After all, he is the one with little life experience, and I truly believe that all children want to succeed.

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Q: Where does the tutoring take place?
A: Aristotle Associates’ tutors meet students wherever is most convenient for them. This usually means their home, but it can also mean a café or public library, given the individual circumstances.
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Q: What do I need to provide for the tutoring session?
A: As a parent, you should provide a quiet, clean, well-lit space for your child to work with his tutor. Also, you should provide your child with all the notebooks, binders, pens, pencils, and other school supplies that he needs. Finally, remind students to have all relevant books and assignments handy.
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Q: What resources do you provide?
A: Our tutors are trained to look out for missing resources. If a textbook seems confusing or inadequate, then the tutor will suggest another. Aristotle Associates has a number of books that it lends students. If we do not have the particular book that a student needs, and the parents do not have the financial resources to buy the book, Aristotle Associates will buy it and lend it to the student for the duration of the school year. In this way, students do not have to struggle as a result of inadequate resources. In addition to books, we help students to create their own study materials, which are incredibly valuable when studying for a quiz or test.
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Q: What can I do if I think my child has a learning disability?
A: First, get your child independently tested.  The public schools may have a conflict of interest in diagnosing such problems, because they must take on financial responsibility for specialized instruction; therefore, they may under-diagnose such problems.  While testing can be expensive, certain, organizations such as the, Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, offer assistance to families that qualify.
Once a diagnosis has been made, discuss options with your tester.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  While many problems can be ameliorated with medications, there might be equally effective learning strategies that your child can use to see huge improvements.  The best way to make such a decision is to be well informed.
Aristotle Associates’ tutors, while not certified in special needs education, often have a great deal of experience working with students with learning differences.  Contact us to discuss your child’s specific needs.
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Q: I have a paper due in the next few days. Can I hire Aristotle Associates to write it?
A: Under no circumstances do our tutors actually write anything for students; we only offer expert guidance and feedback on what they have written. To do so would violate the most basic tenets of academic ethics and would run counter to our mission of enabling kids to become the best students they can.
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Q: I think my child’s problem is less about understanding the material and more about study habits. Is this something Aristotle Associates can address?
A: Absolutely! Aristotle Associates tutors make a specific point with each student to make sure that he is organized, from his assignment book to his binder to his study space. Organization is the key to remaining on top of one’s schoolwork. (Read more on our Organizational Assistance page). Our tutors also help students to create their own study materials as they are learning. Creating these materials serves the dual purpose of reinforcing fresh information and providing a means to review that information later on. By giving students as many ways to interact with information as possible, we build their study skills and help them to understand their own learning style better.
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Aristotle Associates’ Policies

Q: When and how do I pay for the sessions?
A: All sessions must be paid for by credit card. Invoices are sent out on the first of each month, for the preceding month's tutoring, and then payments are processed within the first five days of the month. To sign up for tutoring, families must fill out the necessary paperwork, which can be found here: [link to Contact Us page]
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Q: What are the fees for the different services?
A: Follow this link for information about fees.
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Q: What is the minimum amount of time for an appointment?
A: Appointments must last a minimum of an hour, and can be scheduled in 15 minute increments beyond that.
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Q: Do you have a cancellation policy?
A: Yes, clients must pay for all appointments that are cancelled within 24 hours of the start time.
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Q: Does Aristotle Associates have a money-back satisfaction guarantee?
A: No, we do not. Bear in mind that while the first appointment with an Aristotle Associates tutor is "at your own risk," we have never been asked for our money back. We take pride in the high level of expertise and excellent teaching skills of our tutors. And more than simply not asking for money back, our clients recommend us to their friends and family.
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