Making Academic Progress during COVID-19:
Letters from our Founder

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Quick SAT & ACT Updates

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

ACT has issued the following statement, which summarizes for you some of the findings we’ve been sharing.

College Board is providing this guidance to students who are registered for the August SAT. It is worth noting that 1) they are more specific about safety precautions during testing than ACT has been; and 2) they anticipate and explain their approach to test cancellations.

We will continue to track and communicate.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

The day after MyACT launches

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us after yesterday’s challenging launch of ACT’s MyACT registration site. We’ve heard your stories: students finding fall dates full, students receiving automatic re-registrations at sites in other states, and students who ought to have been re-registered simply canceled with no refund or further direction.

We read every word you send us and appreciate your communications. We only wish we could help solve your problems immediately, and we’re continuing to work with families on finding a path forward.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Some testing sites still have seats for September/October, but most are now full, including those close to Chicago, New York, or Boston (though there are a few options on Long Island and near Philadelphia for October dates).
  2. There are still plenty of sites available for December and on; students can register for any test date through July 2021.
  3. Students are no longer seeing wait times to register on MyACT and should be able to log in immediately.
  4. ACT may add additional test sites in the fall, but nothing is guaranteed.
  5. College Board currently has seats available to take the SAT at several schools in Chicagoland for September and in Chicagoland, Boston region, and New York City metropolitan area for October.
  6. Your frustration is part of a growing national narrative.

Please continue to share your experiences with us, and we’ll continue to gather information and share strategic insights as we gain them. For students that did take the ACT on July 18th, ACT has begun to release scores. Students can find them in their MyACT account.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

Launched: ACT Registration Site

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

ACT reopened its MyACT registration system for fall testing this morning at 10am Central. After a multitude of issues last week, ACT has instituted two major changes to the system: auto-registration for seniors and queuing.

Auto-Registering Seniors
They appear to have attempted to auto-register rising seniors who were scheduled for a canceled test this past spring or summer. Students likely received an email from ACT letting them know if they were able to auto-register them successfully. If they were auto-registered, students can still log in and make changes to the registration like test site or date. Some students have reported that they have received notifications from ACT that they were unable to auto-register them, though a reason was not provided.

Registration Queuing
They’ve introduced a queuing system for students to get on the site to prevent crashes similar to last week. Once the site has reached a maximum number of users, students attempting to register will be placed in line. Students will hear a “chime” when they are at the front of the line, at which point they will have 20 minutes to access the registration system. With some wait times being over an hour, it’s important to stay near your computer so you don’t miss the “chime.”

ACT also updated their FAQ with more information on registration today and have been posting on Twitter. Some important notes:

  • Standby testing will be available at no charge for the September test date
  • Online, remote testing is still planned at this point for winter, which may be helpful for some students
  • Juniors are encouraged to select December or later dates to enable seniors to test before college admissions deadlines

Our directing team will continue to support students and families as they plan for the fall.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

P.S. Academic Approach is in the running for Best Tutor in Better Magazine’s Best of 2020 for both the city and the suburbs categories! Voting happens here until 5pm Wednesday (8/5).

Further Updates from ACT

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

A few important updates from ACT:

  • If you began the registration process when the system briefly opened on Monday, ACT will not be able to process your requests (such as confirmations or changes) until the system reopens on August 3rd.
  • If you were able to take the July 18th test, scores will be available beginning August 5th. Most will be released August 5th-6th.

Impacts on the college admission process
With all the change and obstacles our students are navigating, we wanted to share these survey results on the impact of COVID on the college admissions process. The survey found that 43% of rising seniors felt that their experiences this spring had affected their qualifications and applications for college, including the inability to participate in extracurriculars or educational programs, visit college campuses, or work to save for college. Students also were concerned about the impact on their grades.

We will continue to share information and provide instructional support to do our best to help you maintain academic progress.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

Two Updates from ACT

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

We continue to focus on ACT updates, as they change dynamically and are most impactful.

Two Announcements
In ACT’s most recent update, they announced that the new registration system, MyACT, will re-open again next Monday, August 3rd, at 10am CST. As a reminder, this is a new system, so students may need to migrate their previous account if they have one by creating an account on the new system that will then link to the old.

ACT has also stated that they are working on an “accelerated fall registration experience” for rising seniors in the Class of 2021 who were impacted by previous cancellations and closures in order to help students test before college application and scholarship deadlines.

Next Steps
We’ll maintain focus on both navigating the registration process and planning for academic success this year, and will be working with rising seniors in particular to identify which national (or school) testing dates will best support their plans and goals.

For those of you who have not yet had a chance to take our brief survey on academic support needs. We want to learn how best to help.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

ACT Registration Next Steps

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

Many of you have shared your experiences with the challenges of ACT registration for fall testing. We understand, share these frustrations with these challenges, and hope to help in whatever ways we can. Some points of focus:

Registration
Registration for 2020-2021 test dates was shut down yesterday afternoon after the system was overwhelmed, and is scheduled to re-open tomorrow at noon (or at least ACT will provide an update at that time).

There are eight potential dates to take the ACT this fall, six of which will likely provide scores in advance of most early decision deadlines in November.

Scores from the July ACT test should be returned this week (once the new ACT system is back up!), which will help determine need for re-testing this fall.

The priority is to provide opportunities for rising seniors to test. Juniors who hoped to test early should consider testing in December and later to open up spaces for seniors. It is also possible that ACT will be working to limit these fall administrations to seniors only.

Too Many Testers
ACT has had issues with test center closures for the June and July test dates. These closures (along with the wholesale cancellation of the April test date), mean there are many more students needing to test this fall than is typical. Along with the additional test dates, ACT is still seeking to add test sites. ACT may also prioritize registration for rising seniors and those whose tests were canceled in the spring and summer; we’ll let you know if we hear more on this option.

What’s Next
We will continue to research and share registration information with you as we acquire it. We will also keep our focus on ensuring that students are maintaining academic progress and pushing themselves to advance into next year’s coursework.
Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

ACT Registration Open and Academic Warm-ups

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

After reviewing school re-opening plans, many of you submitted thoughtful requests and posed important questions about ways to support your students’ academic enrichment and skills-based test preparation with subject-specific academic supplements. If you have requests or questions, please fill out this brief survey, and we’ll respond.

ACT Registration Open
ACT launched their new registration system today, so students may have to migrate their account if they have created one in the past. Registration is available for any date through July of 2021. Some sites for September and October dates are already full, so we encourage you to sign up as soon as possible to ensure your date of choice.

Academic Warm-ups: Reading
With schools re-opening soon—whatever the model—it’s time for students to kick off the rust, warm up their academic skills, and prepare for the rigors of next year’s coursework. We’ll focus this week on some subject specific warm-ups. Today’s topic: Reading.

Studies into reading have often found that students do not spend enough time actually reading texts–even in school. Students spend as little as 15 minutes per school day actually reading texts in the intermediate grades. Time spent reading both increases students’ comprehension skills and allows for the acquisition of new knowledge from the texts themselves. The new knowledge then provides students with a broader understanding of concepts that allows them to access more and more challenging texts.

Recommended Reading Essentials
Ultimately, the best way to grow as a reader is to read more challenging texts. We’ve put together this recommended reading list–separated by genre and level. Though not comprehensive, this list can help students get started in selecting rigorous, challenging texts to engage with at home.

Reading Skill Builder
We offer targeted programming to support students with their summer reading as they hone their skills in preparation for fall coursework. We wrap a high-impact skill building supplement around a student’s upcoming reading to develop annotation and summarizing skills, essay composition strategies, and grammar skills for proofreading. As always, our curriculum and instruction are tied to the skills most predictive of college success in English and reading. Let us know if you’d like to set something up for your student.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

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Every Student is Different

We know our students; each one is unique, and each one requires a different approach, especially during these unprecedented times. That is why our ACT, SAT, and Middle School test prep is customized to each student and school partner.

We improve your students’ standardized testing by tailoring our research-based, expert instruction and curriculum to your needs, and we can get started with you right away.

In response to the growing concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are shifting our services to online tutoring and online practice testing.

Reach out to us at 773-348-8914 with any questions.