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SAT testing begins

November 06, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

Karley Moss walked out of Williamsport High School after taking the SAT college entrance test, relieved that she was done with the three-hour ordeal.

"It's just mind-boggling," she said.

Moss was one of 165 students who came to the school Saturday to take the challenging exam, which requires reasoning skills to answer a barrage of English and math questions.

In one section, students are presented with two objects and asked to determine which is larger. Certain measurements and other facts are offered for the two objects, but not all the information needed to determine the correct answer is offered, students said.

"I would say it's not an easy test," said John Homan, a counselor at Williamsport High School who oversees the SAT - Scholastic Assessment Test - program there.

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Students can get SAT test books from their schools to practice for the exam, or they can take SAT prep classes or select from several Internet sites to help them get ready.

Students can take the test again if they are not happy with their first score, and some schools offer the exam up to seven times a year.

Lindsay Smigelski took the test for a third time Saturday at Williamsport High. She scored 1,050 the first time, then increased her score to 1,190 the second time.

For her third try, Smigelski picked up a CD-ROM at Staples office store which offered tips on how to score high on the test.

Smigelski said the kit seemed to work.

"I felt more prepared," she said.

The test is divided into verbal and math categories, and the top score in each section is 800. The average score for both sections is 1,023.

Boonsboro High School Senior Lindsay Weaver took the test for the first time Saturday, and she said it was easier than she expected. Lindsay said she was concerned about the test, but most of her feelings were simply apprehension about not knowing what to expect.

Williamsport was one of six high schools across the Tri-State area Saturday offering the test, sometimes seen as a dreaded part of the college preparation experience.

Other schools offering the SAT Saturday included Chambersburg Area Senior High School, Hedgesville High School in Hedgesville, W.Va., St. James School, Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pa., and Southern Fulton Junior Senior High School in Warfordsburg, Pa.

The SAT is the most preferred college entrance exam among colleges and universities, according to counselors in Tri-State area high schools.

In addition to a SAT score, most colleges ask for a student's class rank and grade point average, said Janet Martin, head counselor at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

Martin said high school administrators usually have no problems with students getting tips on how to take the test from Internet sites, CD-ROMs and other sources.

"It's no more than the SAT book we give them," she said.

Although students sometimes take the test several times in an attempt to get the best score, a low score isn't devastating, educational experts say. A low score may prevent a student from getting into an Ivy League school, but there are 3,000 other colleges and universities a student could enter.

Supporters of the test say they actually help students find a college where they can succeed.

The other commonly used college entrance exam is American College Testing. The ACT used to be the sole test used by public colleges and universities in West Virginia, but now they allow the SAT as well, said Nancy Kilmon, director of research and technology for Berkeley County schools.

The ACT is an achievement test that measures what students have learned in school, whereas the SAT is an aptitude test that determines how well students are likely to succeed in college, Kilmon said.

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