When should I try to have my college applications completed and sent to the colleges?

We suggest that students try to have all their applications completed in time to arrive at the colleges by December 1st. University of Maryland College Park's priority deadline date is November 1st, so be aware that some schools will have earlier deadlines. Often colleges award their scholarship money to the students who adhere to the priority/early action deadline. Since all colleges require an official high school transcript as well as a counselor recommendation, you need to factor in a 15 day window of time (3 weeks in advance) for requesting your transcript and recommendation from Blake's Registrar so that it will arrive in time. Contact Ms. Marks for additional information at 240-740-1397.

How many colleges should I apply to?

That's up to you, but 5-8 would be about right. Be sure to have at least two schools on your list that seem like a sure thing, two that are a good possibility, and maybe one that's a stretch.

My student receives testing accommodations at Blake. Will accommodations be available for the PSAT, SAT, AP and ACT?

Yes. A student with a documented disability may be eligible for accommodations on College Board tests. Students must complete the "Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Eligibility Form" available online at College Board to request accommodations at least six weeks in advance. The form only needs to be submitted once during a student's high school career, unless they change high schools. Once the form is processed, students will receive a letter approving the student's specific accommodations. Each time a student registers for a College Board test, they would provide the personal identification number assigned to them in the letter.

When should I submit the SSD form?

If the PSAT or SAT will be the student's first College Board test, the SSD form should be submitted at least six weeks prior to test day to allow for processing and notification. It is the student's responsibility to see the SSD coordinator in the Blake Counseling Office if assistance is needed to submit the SSD form electronically at least six weeks in advance of the test.

How Do You Interpret PSAT scores? How Does the PSAT compare to the SAT?

The purpose of a Practice PSAT is to give you a chance to become familiar with the content and timing of the test so that you are better prepared to take the actual PSAT in October of your junior year. The practice is just a wake-up call to let you know which concepts you have mastered and which areas still need work.

The PSAT and SAT are similar tests. The same kinds of verbal and math questions are included in both the PSAT and the SAT Reasoning Test. 

The PSAT and SAT are on different scales.  The PSAT score ranges from 320 to 1520.  The SAT score ranges from 800 to 1600.  Your score shows you how you would have scored that day on the SAT.  Your score report will show you the mean, or average, scores earned by typical U.S. test-takers.    

You will also see a percentile score that compares your score to the scores of typical U.S. students in a particular grade.  This number between 1 and 99 shows how you scored compared to other students.  It represents the percentage of students whose scores fall at or below your score.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) uses a scale called the  Selection Index score of Juniors as the initial screening for their scholarship competition.  To get this, NMSC adds your Math, Reading and Writing section scores, which each fall between 8 and 38, and then multiplies that sum by 2.  Thus, the PSAT NMSC Selection Index ranges from 48 to 228.  Approximately 50,000 students across the country out of a pool of more than one million will have Selection Index scores high enough to qualify them for recognition and the right to continue on in the competition.

Don't be discouraged if you thought your score was too low. And don't sit back and think you don't need to work hard if you were happy with your score. Use the spring and summer to tackle trouble spots so that you'll be ready to take on the actual PSAT next fall.

How many times can I take the SAT Reasoning Test?

You can take it as many times as you like, but we suggest limiting yourself to 3 times at most. Colleges will use your highest score and often will combine the highest math and highest critical reading for admission purposes. Keep in mind that your SAT record is cumulative, so colleges will see all the scores when they are sent unless you choose the "score choice" option. Score choice allows the student to choose which test date's scores should be electronically sent to colleges.

What is the ACT, and how do I know if I should take it?

The ACT is a college entrance exam similar to the SAT Reasoning Test. Both tests help colleges predict your chances of success during the freshman year, and most colleges will accept either exam for admissions purposes. While the SAT test contains only math and reading & writing (optional) sections, the ACT includes sections on English, reading, math & science & writing (optional). Both tests allow students to use calculators and colleges will accept the ACT or SAT for college admissions purposes. At a glance, differences between the two tests include:

  • The ACT math includes some trigonometry, the SAT does not.
  • The SAT questions within a particular set appear in order of difficulty, not true on the ACT.
  • The SAT is not all multiple choice, the ACT is.
Are fee waivers available for the ACT, PSAT, Advanced Placement, or the SAT Tests?

Yes. See Mrs. Prochnow for a fee waiver request form. Students who take the ACT or the SAT Reasoning Test or SAT Subject tests using a waiver, can also have up to four college application fees waived.

What are the SAT Subject Tests and do all colleges require them?

Some rigorous colleges require the SAT Subject Tests -- actually most schools don't require them! Check on the specific college's website to see if you need to take the subject tests and which ones are recommended. SAT Subject Tests include many different subject tests covering five general areas: English, history and social studies, math, sciences, and languages. They help colleges compare the academic achievements of students from different schools where preparation and academic backgrounds may vary. For more information and to register for these tests, visit: www.collegeboard.org

When will the FAFSA forms be available?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA - www.fafsa.gov) will be available online beginning October 1. A Financial Aid Workshop will be held at Blake in October (Date TBD)  to explain the FAFSA. Melissa Gregory, Chief Enrollment Services and Financial Aid Officer at Montgomery College, will provide a powerpoint presentation and answer all financial aid questions in the auditorium. Ms. Alexandra Gonzalez will provide the same presentation in Spanish in the College & Career Center. Be aware that the FAFSA will include income/assets from the 2017 tax year, so there will be no estimated numbers. Under all circumstances, make sure that your FAFSA is filed before March 1 or you could lose out on Maryland state financial grants and scholarships. Some Maryland colleges request that the FAFSA be submitted earlier. Always check with the individual college for their financial aid deadline.

What is the CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile is a more detailed financial aid form required by some private colleges and universities in addition to the FAFSA to help determine whether a student will receive financial assistance from the institution. Check in the Career Center or with the college to see which colleges require both forms. There is a processing fee for the CSS Profile, however, the FAFSA is free. The CSS Profile should be completed online at www.collegeboard.com beginning October 1st. Help needed? Contact customer support: 305-829-9793 or email: help@cssprofile.org.

What is the TOEFL Test?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language is used to evaluate the English proficiency of people whose native language is not English. This computer-based test is required for admission by more than 2,400 colleges and universities in the United States. The cost of the test is posted on the website: www.ets.org/toefl. Partial fee waivers (half of fee) are available in cases of financial hardship. Please see Mrs. Prochnow. For more information about the TOEFL, including sample questions, visit .

Who can attend college visits in the Career Center?

Juniors and seniors may attend college visits in the Career Center. To view the scheduled visits, log into http://connection.naviance.com/blake. Use your 6 digit student I.D. number  as both the username and the password.     Parents may obtain their own unique log in by contacting Ms. Prochnow or can see the list by using the Guest password: 210959. 

How can I get a pass to attend college visits?

Once logged into Naviance, juniors and seniors, click on the COLLEGES tab and then "view all upcoming college visits."  Click "Sign Up" twice and then take the Confirmation Page to your teacher to sign.  This is your pass.  Students must sign up on Naviance at least one day in advance.   NO EXCEPTIONS! Remember that the classroom teacher makes the final decision on whether or not the student can afford to miss class to attend a college rep visit.