A+ Test Prep and Tutoring Newsletter

April 2013
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In This Issue
Comparing College Costs with Net Price Calculators
Testing Timers Watches Now Available at A+
Featured SAT Student: Courtney Turnbull
Comparing College Costs with Net Price Calculators
College Net Price Calculator


At some private universities, the total annual cost, including tuition, room and board, fees, and other expenses, is approaching $60,000 per year. As costs have continued to rise, so has the need for accurate information about the potential costs of attending a particular college. 


That's why the US Department of Education now requires every college that offers federal financial aid to post a "net price calculator" on its website, according to The New York Times article, "Clarity and Confusion From Tuition Calculators," by Richard Pérez-Peña. The goal is for each school to provide an estimate of the cost of tuition, books, and room and board, subtracting the amount of aid, grants, and scholarships applicable to each student, based on need and merit.


Each college can use a template created by the department, a calculator provided by a third-party vendor such as the College Board, or one its own design, as long as it meets a number of requirements, Pérez-Peña reports.


Despite the Department of Education's effort to assist consumers, some parents and students shy away from using the new tools, after realizing the calculations do not always match up with final offer letters.


The amount of time and effort required to use these net price calculators may deter some consumers from utilizing the tools, according to a study by The Institute for College Access and Success. In the study's sample, the number of questions "asked by the calculator ranged from 8 to about 70."


The study also demonstrated that most calculators are too difficult to locate on schools' websites or via search engines. If you use Google to search for "college tuition calculator," you'll be directed to college tuition calculators from multiple third-party vendors, including CNN Money, Salary.com, and FinAid.org. Penn State's calculator is the first school-specific tool to pop up on the search, and the only calculator that displays on the first page of Google search results, according to A+ Test Prep and Tutoring research.  


The following pointers will help you use the new tools to compare college costs:

  • Don't put "too much stock in the small differences between different college calculators' cost projections," Pérez-Peña reminds readers. The calculators are meant to gauge a "rough price" for what college could cost.
  • Use the College Board's Net Price Calculator to compare more than 300 different schools, while only having to enter your financial data once. 
  • Educate yourself on the different kinds of aid available - loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study. Use the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website to assist you in this research. 
  • Don't assume that selective private colleges will be out of your price range. Use the school's net price calculator to check costs. "For all but high-income families, a well-endowed private college can be as affordable as a top state university," Pérez-Peña notes in his article.
Testing Timers Watches
 Now Available at A+
(with free shipping!)
Testing Timers Watch
Testing Timers Watch

Testing Timers, a company founded by Jordan Liss, a student at the University of Michigan, has recently introduced two watches specifically designed for use on the SAT and ACT exams, respectively. The watches were mentioned in a recent New York Times article.

These watches are a great tool for students to use while preparing for, and taking, these standardized exams. The watches allow students to pace themselves appropriately and keep track of the time remaining on each section of the exam.

Each watch is programmed with the exact amount of time and the number of questions on each section of the exam (10 sections on the SAT and 5 sections on the ACT). Students set the watch for the specific section of the test they are about to begin working on, and the watch counts down the time for that section.

A+ is offering these watches for $39.95, with free shipping. Just call our office at 215.886.9188 to order.

Also note that we are providing an introductory offer to students who register for a complete test prep tutoring program for the September ACT or October SAT exam. Students enrolling in one of these programs will receive a complimentary Testing Timers(tm)watch. Please mention Offer Code: TT2013.
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Featured SAT Student: Courtney Turnbull
Courtney Turnbull, Featured SAT Prep Tutoring Student
Courtney Turnbull
Lower Moreland HS
SAT Score Improvement:
250 Points

Motivation comes naturally to Courtney Turnbull. The Lower Moreland High School Junior attends journalism classes twice per week at WHYY's Public Media Commons in Center City Philadelphia. She is learning what skills are needed to be a television news anchor.


Courtney has what one of her tutors refers to as a "small but mighty" approach to life, always determined to take on the next task.  Her approach to SAT prep provides a good example. The summer before her junior year, Courtney was already preparing for the SAT exam. She bought a book to study and prepare for the test, but soon realized it wasn't helping her as much as she wanted. "I realized I didn't know how to go about this," Courtney said. After talking to a few friends who had achieved success with A+ Test Prep, Courtney and her family decided to hire us too. She was paired up with tutors Elisabeth Angeles for math and Carolyn Scott for reading and writing.


According to Elisabeth, a crucial component of tutoring is opening up to the experience. Courtney had no trouble with this, she seemed to come to the table with a "you're the professional, let's do this" attitude, Elisabeth added.


"Courtney is persistent," Carolyn said. "When a problem happens she rebounds and tries to find a way to solve it."


Courtney mentioned that she was having a difficult time focusing on the long reading passages, making it hard for her to finish the reading section of the test.  


Carolyn consulted three other verbal tutors at A+, and designed a strategy specifically for Courtney which allowed her to significantly improve her SAT reading score.


"Courtney is really good at assimilating what she learns," Carolyn said. Elisabeth agreed, Courtney is "always willing to try new strategies and approach questions from a new direction," she said.

Courtney credits the personal connection she developed with her tutors for her boost in scores. "I need explanations of why this or that happened, so I can understand the context through conversation," Courtney said.


With her can-do attitude, Courtney was able to raise her score 250 points. Determined as ever, she's not ready to stop just yet. Courtney plans to take the SAT again in June, spending more time practicing the techniques she learned from A+.


Courtney believes her SAT test prep has improved her schoolwork as well, especially in math. "We found new ways to start problems and spend my study time more wisely," she added.


The young journalist also believes that her writing is better as a result of the tutoring program. She now incorporates SAT vocabulary when writing essays and scripts. "The way I write has definitely improved," she said.


Courtney is not only "small but mighty" in her studies, she's also an accomplished athlete in lacrosse and field hockey, leads a summer bible camp for children, and hopes to study journalism in college. She plans to apply to Elon, Hofstra, and Temple Universities.

Thank you for your interest in A+ and our newsletter. Feel free to contact us at 215.886.9188 or visit us on the web at www.aplustutoring.com.
And don't forget to visit the A+ Blog, which is updated regularly with articles relating to a variety of education-related topics including college admissions, test prep, learning disabilites, reading skills, and more. 
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Daniel Ascher
A+ Test Prep and Tutoring
This email was sent to dan@aplustutoring.com by dan@aplustutoring.com |  
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