Tests are a rite of passage. We all have to take them so that others can gauge our achievements. You will be taking some or all of the following exams in your sophomore, junior and senior years: the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT I’s and II’s), International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), the American College Test (ACT) and the National Merit Qualifying Exam (administered in the fall of your junior year).

Entablature encourages you to prepare for them because having familiarity with tests can only help you. How much preparing you do depends on a lot of factors, but we believe the amount of preparation is key. Those students who study for the SAT the weekend before taking it will not realize any improvement. But if you begin several months or years in advance of the test dates, pacing yourself and focusing on overcoming weaknesses, you’ll see positive results.

We encourage you to browse your local bookstore for test prep materials. Stake out a comfortable lounge chair in the stores for an afternoon and leaf through the various products. You will come to know precisely what to expect in the exams and how to tackle them. You should definitely purchase a few of the test prep books and make full use of them.

There are official prep manuals available, such as The Official SAT Study Guide and The Real ACT Prep Guide, which you can procure by going to the SAT and ACT websites.

Some students can afford to enroll in courses preparing them specifically for these exams. If you can afford it and wish to do it, we support you in that effort.

If you exhaust all the avenues at your disposal to prepare for the college entrance exams, you will always know that you did your best — and there’ll be no regrets.

Case Review

We worked with a student who identified Carnegie Mellon as his primary choice for mathematics. This was a stretch school for him, and he knew it. But we found schools that were similar in profile — and slightly less difficult to get into — and encouraged him to apply to them as well.

He applied to the University of Rochester, Case Western Reserve University, Tulane University, and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. These were all medium-size universities with strong science and mathematics programs. In the end, he was admitted to all but Carnegie-Mellon, where he was wait-listed. After visiting all of the schools, he decided on Case Western Reserve University with enthusiasm. We thought it a great choice too.

In August, just a few weeks before leaving home for school, Carnegie Mellon admitted him off the waitlist. While our student was pleased with the offer, he had become quite excited about Case Western - and declined Carnegie Mellon’s offer.

This student spent his entire pre-senior summer studying for the SAT and raised his math score from 570 to 660. We believe that the latter score made a difference in his results, especially given that he only ranked in the upper third of his class.

We took him on because – while just a low B student in a college prep curriculum – he convinced us that he was going to work harder and focus more. True to his word, his first semester senior year grades were the best he ever had, with 3 A’s and 3 B+’s. This undoubtedly impressed the admissions officers across the board. He was blossoming, his future was bright — and they went for him!

After graduating from Case Western with a mathematics degree, he went on to Carnegie Mellon for his MBA.