Academic and College Advising Newsletter - May 2023

Academic and College Advising Newsletter - May 2023
Ayoleida Paramo, Dean of Academic Advising

Dear Parents,

For college admission, standardized tests are used to compare the abilities of incoming students, determine college and career readiness, and help colleges make admission decisions.

The primary college admission tests are the ACT and the SAT, which are typically taken in junior and/or senior years of high school. To help our students feel prepared to take the official admissions tests, Bear Creek offers practice tests for both ACT and SAT starting in grade 9. The practice tests are designed to:

  1. Help our students feel familiar with both test formats
  2. Provide early test scores that will give students a sense of their strengths and weaknesses to determine what they might need to study to improve their future test scores
  3. Make an official testing plan

The goal is that students have test scores that are representative of their abilities and that support their college applications by the time they are preparing their college applications in senior year.

The Digital SAT Is Coming! 

However, in response to the changing educational landscape, as well as the emerging needs of students, teachers, education officials, and policymakers, the College Board is moving the SAT Suite from paper to a digital format. Here is what you and your child need to know.

Beginning in the fall of 2023, College Board will deliver the SAT Suite (PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT) digitally at U.S. schools and test centers.

The PSAT 8/9, which is taken by Bear Creek grade 9 students, and the PSAT/NMSQT, taken by Bear Creek students in grades 10 and 11, will be administered digitally starting fall of 2023. Most students who take the SAT for the first time do so in the spring of their junior year, so the graduating class of 2025 will be the first class to take the digital SAT in the spring of 2024, which will also be offered at The Bear Creek School.

Digital SAT Timeline

Students will take these digital tests on their own laptops (Windows or MacOS), iPads, or Surfaces, using a custom-built digital exam application that they will download in advance of test day. The digital exam application provides access to helpful tools such as:

  • Mark for review: Students can flag and return to a question within a test module.
  • Testing timer: A clock counts down the time remaining in each module. 
  • Calculator: A built-in graphic calculator is available on the entire Math section. 
  • Reference sheet: A list of common formulas is available on the Math section. 
  • Annotation: Students can highlight any part of a question and leave themselves a note.

In addition to going digital, the SAT Suite will now also use a new multistage adaptive testing methodology that provides a more personalized testing experience for students. While all students will be required to answer the same number of questions, adaptive testing means that the specific questions asked will differ from student to student based on their performance in prior modules.

How is that performance determined?

Each test will be composed of two sections: Reading and Writing (64 minutes) and Math (70 minutes), which are both divided into two separately timed modules. The first module contains a mix of easy, medium, and hard questions that allow students to demonstrate achievements. The questions in the second module are based on how the test taker performs in the first module, so some students will receive a larger number of challenging questions than others. Although the College Board has not shared specific details yet, this adaptive module will impact a student’s individual score at the end of the test as well.

So, what’s staying the same?

  • The SAT Suite will continue to measure knowledge and the skills that students are learning in school for college and career readiness.
  • The digital SAT will be scored on a 1600-point scale.
  • The digital SAT will be administered in schools and tests centers with a proctor present. It cannot be administered at home.
  • Students will have access to free practice resources through Khan Academy.
  • Approved accommodations will be set in place on test day.
  • The test will continue to connect students to scholarship opportunities.

And what’s changing?

  • Students will take the test on a laptop or tablet.
  • The digital SAT will be more secure and flexible due to its multi-adaptive testing methodology. 
  • The test will be shorter—about two hours.
  • Calculators will be allowed on the entire Math section.
  • Reading passages will be shorter and math questions will be less wordy.
  • Students will receive scores in days, not weeks.

Remember, students will still have the opportunity to take the SAT on a paper and pencil format until fall 2023. Also, the ACT is remaining a paper and pencil test for the immediate future.

For more information on the Digital SAT Suite, visit College Board online or contact Dean of Academic Advising Ayoleida Páramo (

The official SAT is offered at Bear Creek twice a year (SAT School Day), in the fall and spring semesters, exclusively for Bear Creek students. We encourage our students to take advantage of the standardized testing opportunities at Bear Creek and strongly recommend students sit for their preferred official test (ACT or SAT) at least once or twice prior to submitting their college applications.

To test or not to test?

Here are some reasons why your high schooler might want to consider taking the ACT or the SAT.

  • Although some colleges are now test-optional or test-blind, others still require test scores in their admissions process and strong test scores may help a student’s admission chances. 
  • Many colleges will use SAT or ACT scores to award merit scholarships for incoming students.  
  • Test scores may also be required for scholarships, transfers, or special programs. 
  • Some colleges might reinstate testing requirements.

Announcements and Reminders

Advising Appointments

This spring we continue to offer one-on-one advising meetings with students as they prepare for the upcoming school year and apply to college (for rising seniors). All students have been given access to these links via Teams, and we encourage you to support them in booking a session. Please note, parents are always welcome to attend these appointments.

College Application Summer Office Hours and Workshops

In August, Dean of College and Academic Advising Katie Gomulkiewicz will offer regular office hours for seniors in addition to several college essay workshops. These dates will be published soon on the College and Academic Advising Calendar.

  • August 1, 9, 14, and 21: College Application Summer Office Hours
  • August 2 and 8: Common App College Essay Workshop
  • August 3 and 16: "Why Us" College Essay Workshop
  • August 10 and 17: "Why Me" College Essay Workshop

Onsite College Test Schedule

Again, check the website calendar for times, locations, and details.

  • October 11: SAT School Day for juniors and seniors (sign up with Back-to-School Registration this summer)
  • October 14: PSAT 8/9 for freshmen, PSAT 10 for sophomores, and PSAT/NMSQT for juniors
  • March 1: PreACT for sophomores
  • March 20: SAT School Day for juniors (sign up in January)

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Ms. Gomulkiewicz ( and I are always available to offer support and guidance.


Ayoleida Páramo 
Dean of Academic Advising
425-898-1720 ext. 535

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