Academics

College Counseling

The college process is an opportunity for personal growth, self-reflection, and self-discovery.
The Sixth Form year is a time of profound change: students begin to think about leaving the Groton School community, entering adulthood, and choosing a college. We are aware of the excitement and challenges, and we provide tools to help our students navigate the many paths toward college admission.

While outcomes are important, so is the process. The College Counseling Office focuses on discovering good matches between students and colleges. We believe this is each student’s personal journey. The role of Groton’s college counselors is to support, guide, and educate students and their families; students come to understand themselves as they explore the ever-changing world of college admission.

Beginning in winter of Fifth Form, college counselors hold group information sessions, individual meetings with students and their parents, and parent presentations. During Sixth Form, students continue with individual meetings and have the opportunity to talk with more than one hundred college representatives who visit Groton. In addition, families and students have access to the school’s computer-based college counseling program, which provides statistics, college searches, links to scholarships, and other information.

How to Plan

Our College Planning Calendar provides step-by-step guidelines, from Third through Sixth Forms.

Matriculations

Colleges where five or more Groton students have matriculated, 2015-2019:
Georgetown University
26
University of Chicago
24
Harvard College
22
Brown University
17
New York University
15
Princeton University
12
Yale University
12
Dartmouth College
11
Hamilton College
9
Northwestern University
9
Tufts University
9
Boston College
8
Bowdoin College
8
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill
8
Columbia University
7
Scripps College
7
University of St. Andrews
7
University of Virginia
7
Middlebury College
6
Cornell University
5
Duke University
5
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5
Stanford University
5
Trinity College
5
Williams College
5

Standardized Testing

Standardized test scores are just one of the many pieces that colleges consider during the application process, and many colleges no longer require test scores. Several standardized test options are available, depending upon a student's strengths and interests.
Groton School registers all students for the PSAT and registers those enrolled in AP classes for the AP exams. Students must register themselves for the SAT I and SAT Subject Tests (www.collegeboard.com), the ACT (www.act.org), and the TOEFL (www.toefl.org). Most register online, but students may pick up registration booklets and paper forms in the College Counseling Office. The Groton School code is 220930.
Students must be logged into their College Board account for Groton School to appear as a test site. For the SATs, Groton School will always be listed. For the ACT, if Groton School is not available, students should select Lawrence Academy or Nashua High School South.
Most Fifth Formers (eleventh graders) will take the SAT Reasoning test in December or May and the SAT Subject Tests in May and June. College counselors will help develop a complete testing plan for each student.

List of 6 items.

  • PSAT

    There are three parts to the PSAT:
    1. Verbal/Critical Reading (50 minutes—two 25-minute sections) contains critical reading questions based on short reading passages of 100–200 words. Passages are taken from a variety of fields, including the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. They also may be excerpts from works of fiction. Passages will vary in style and may include narrative, argumentative, and expository elements. Each short passage will be followed by two questions. There will also be a pair of short passages followed by four questions. (Score: 20–80)
    2. Mathematics (50 minutes—two 25-minute sections) includes concepts of numbers and operations, algebra and functions, geometry and measurement, and data analysis, statistics, and probability, as well as some pre-calculus questions. (Score: 20-80)
    3. Writing (30 minutes) includes a multiple-choice writing section that focuses on grammar, usage, and word choice, as well as sections on improving sentences, identifying sentence errors, and improving paragraphs. (Score: 20–80)
    Scores are reported as two-digit numbers ranging from 20 to 80. If you multiply your scores by 10, you will have a rough estimate of your projected SAT I scores (73 = 730, 65 = 650, etc.). You will receive three PSAT/NMSQT scores: Verbal, Math, and Writing.
    Purpose
    The PSAT/NMSQT results are meant to give students “practice” and an early indication of how they might perform on the SAT I. Students will receive their PSAT scores along with their answer sheet and test booklet in December. By reviewing the questions and answers, students can identify weak areas and prepare so that they do better when it does count.

    About the PSAT
  • SAT Reasoning Test (SAT 1)

    The SAT Reasoning test, which will be administered beginning in March 2016, will include:
    • Two Mathematics sections, 80 minutes (one 25-minute section without calculator and one 55-minute section with calculator)
    • A Reading section, 65 minutes 
    • A Writing and Language section, 35 minutes 
    • An Essay section, 50 minutes (optional)

    Students will receive a Mathematics score between 200 and 800 and a combined score for Reading and Writing/Language between 200 and 800. They will receive three separate scores, each between 2 and 8, on the Essay, covering reading, analysis, and writing. The test is offered on seven dates each school year and is offered at Groton School six times a year. Look for more info at www.collegeboard.com.
     
    While the SAT I provides some indication of verbal and mathematical aptitude, it does not measure other important qualities needed for success in college, such as motivation, perseverance, curiosity, and a sincere desire to learn.

    Register for the SAT
  • SAT Subject Tests

    Many colleges require that applicants take two or three SAT II Subject Tests. Usually students can choose which tests they want to take, however, on occasion, a math or science Subject Test is required (for many state schools and for most engineering programs) in addition to one or two tests of the student’s choice. Students should carefully check the requirements of the schools and programs in which they are interested. Note that Math IC and Math IIC cannot be counted as two separate tests.

    Subject Tests are one-hour long; students may take up to three on any one test date.

    Scores range from 200 to 800.

    Subject Tests are given in the following disciplines:
    Literature, United States History, World History, Mathematics Level I and Mathematics Level II (both allow use of an approved calculator), French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Spanish, Biology E/M, Chemistry, and Physics. There are also language listening exams in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

    • We generally advise students to take Subject Tests in May and/or June of the Fifth Form year. Students and their counselors will discuss individual testing calendars during their first meeting.
    • Students can and should study for Subject Tests—they are specific and factual. Preparation books and software packages are widely available.It is not wise for students to take a Subject Test for which they have not prepared.
     
    Purpose

    SAT II Subject Tests measure what students have learned in a specific subject area. Since courses, standards, and requirements vary widely among high schools, the Subject Tests provide colleges with one objective way to compare a student’s knowledge against that of other students across the country.

    CANCELLING SCORES: If you feel that you did not do well on a Subject Test, you may cancel your scores within 72 hours of the test date. However, test cancellation is an all-or-nothing proposition—canceling one test will automatically cancel all of your tests taken that day.

    For more information on the SAT II Subject tests, consult www.collegeboard.com.

    Register for the SAT Subject Tests
  • ACT (American College Testing) with Writing

    The ACT can be used at almost all colleges as a substitute for the SAT I (and often for the SAT II Subject Tests). In the past, the ACT was used primarily by colleges in the Midwest and West of the United States. Recently, the number and geographical spread of colleges accepting the ACT has grown. For example, more than 98 percent of the 330 colleges that accept the Common Application also accept the ACT. Students should read the requirements of the colleges in which they are interested to determine whether the ACT is an acceptable or preferred option.

    The ACT consists of four 35- to 50-minute subtests in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning, as well as a writing section. You will receive four separate scores, plus a composite score that averages the tests. Scores range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The College Counseling Office can provide a graph to help correlate ACT and SAT I scores.

  • TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language

    This test is for non-native English speakers who either (1) have only been in the United States a few years, or (2) find the SAT I does not accurately reflect their English competency. The TOEFL is meant to assess if a student’s English is sufficient to understand college-level texts, rather than evaluating the fine points and extensive vocabulary covered by the critical reading SAT and Literature subject tests. An English Language Proficiency Test, sponsored by the College Board, is an alternative aimed toward students who have been taught in English for an additional number of years. Some colleges require the TOEFL of international students.

    Learn more about the TOEFL.
  • AP: Advanced Placement Tests

    AP classes are college-level courses, taught in high schools, that follow a nationally developed curriculum. Scores range from 1 (low) to 5 (high). Colleges vary greatly in how they use the AP and how much credit students can receive for their scores. At Groton School, students enrolled in AP classes are required to take the exam. AP exams are given at Groton in May; they last three hours and are based on full-year college-level courses.
     
    Subjects include Art History, Studio Art, Biology, Calculus AB and BC, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics (Micro and Macro), English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, French, German, Government and Politics, Human Geography, International English Language, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Music Theory, Physics, Psychology, Spanish, Statistics, U.S. History, and World History.

    The AP program was not designed to be used in college admission. Instead, it was designed to allow students to obtain college credit and/or to exempt students from introductory college courses. To gain credit for college, selective colleges require a score of at least 4, and some require a 5 (while others will not award credit at all).

    While APs were not intended to be used in colleges’ evaluation of candidates, many admission offices do pay attention to the presence of AP scores in an applicant’s folder. If a student has taken APs and has done well (a score of 4 or 5), it may be in his or her best interest to report these scores to colleges on the application. The task of reporting APs on a college application lies with the student. Students do not officially send AP scores until they are ready to matriculate to a college.

Test Preparation

The best preparation for college entrance exams is a strong academic foundation. Students who strive for their best work throughout their education, and who read books with rich vocabulary outside of class, fortify that foundation.

The best short-term preparation is familiarity with the tests, and, for mathematics, a review of formulas. This can be achieved by working through a book of practice tests, through interactive computer software, by studying individually with a tutor, or by enrolling in a group prep course.

Groton School works with Kaplan Test Prep to provide individual tutoring and SAT Prep classes on campus during winter of Fifth Form and fall of Sixth Form. Many firms offer SAT Prep; we cannot guarantee that any will make a difference. Some students improve, and some do not. Beware of claims too good to be true and weigh carefully whether students have the time and energy to invest in SAT Prep. 

If you decide on a test preparation course, we advise you to choose one that reviews material, enhances skills that would be useful in any testing situation, and provides exercises that help to increase concentration and relaxation. Many Groton students find that the summer between Fifth and Sixth Form is when motivation is highest for SAT prep.