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FAQ about Secondary School Admissions

How do I start looking for a school for my child?

Garber Academics counseling helps families gain important insight about secondary schools in Los Angeles and for boarding schools across the country, so that once the client's needs and preferences are established, an experienced counselor can suggest the schools that provide a "best fit" with those needs and preferences.

What is the timetable for secondary school admissions?

At Garber Academics, we encourage families to begin the process early, usually in the summer, approximately 15 months prior to the expected enrollment. This allows students and parents to complete a portion of the admissions tasks before the student's schoolwork becomes demanding and time consuming. Entrance exams are usually taken in December or January prior to enrollment, and admissions notices are provided in March.

Which entrance tests are required for secondary school admission?

The majority of independent day schools in Los Angeles require the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), whereas schools in other areas, and many boarding schools, require the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT). Catholic high schools often require the Cooperative Entrance Exam (COOP) or the High School Placement Test (HSPT), or a school may construct its own exam.

What can be done if my child is a weak test taker?

First, it should be determined if factors such as test anxiety, pace, or carelessness are interfering with test performance. Next, it is important to see which subject matter presents the greatest challenge, and direct the teaching in a way that the student learns best. Finally, practice tests are a valuable asset for students who have difficulty with standardized testing.

Can Garber Academics help my child become comfortable with interviews?

We provide one-on-one and group interview preparation sessions to help students understand the format of the interview process and to become confident about communicating with an interviewer.

Are there ways I can help my younger student with future secondary school admissions?

Admissions Advantage offers preparation for standardized tests such as the ERB (CTP4), STAR or CAT/6 exams, which are included in the student's academic transcript. Learning test taking strategies early gives the student tools that will be helpful during the admissions process. Scholastic Success offers subject tutoring to help students earn the best grades possible.

“The combination of Dr. Garber's extensive knowledge of the college admissions process, along with her ability to really connect to students resulted in our son's admission to his top choice of colleges.”

~Dr. Gary and Gigi Small

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FAQ about the PSAT/NMSQT

What is the PSAT/NMSQT?

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test is a co-sponsored program by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. It provides practice for the SAT Reasoning Test and gives students an opportunity to enter National Merit Scholarship programs. Approximately 15,000 juniors of the 1.2 million students who take the PSAT/NMSQT will be designated as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. The PSAT/NMSQT is not used for the purposes of college admission.

When is the PSAT offered?

The PSAT is offered in October of each year on high school campuses.

How does a student register for the PSAT?

Students register for the PSAT through their high school or through another high school in their community. On-line registration IS NOT available.

More information on the PSAT/NMSQT is available at:


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FAQ about the SAT Reasoning Test

What is the SAT?

The SAT is a 3-hour test designed to evaluate general thinking and problem solving abilities. It is administered seven times per year, giving students the ability to take the test more than one time.

What subject matter is covered in the SAT?

Reading: sentence completions, short and long critical reading passages, reading comprehension
Math: through 9th grade geometry and Algebra II
Writing: grammar, usage, word choice and an essay

How is the test scored?

Each of the three sections is worth 200-800 points, with a highest possible combined score of 2400.

How is the essay scored?

The essay is read by two people, each of whom give it a score of 1-6. The sum of these scores is multiplied by a conversion factor and combined with the score from the multiple-choice grammar section. The new total raw score is converted to a score between 200-800.

Can I choose which scores are sent to the colleges?

Depending on the college, students are able to select which scores they send by test date (test sitting) for the SAT and by individual test for SAT Subject Tests. Scores from an entire SAT test are sent. In most cases, students can choose, by test date, which scores appear on the score report sent to colleges, universities or scholarship programs, although some programs request all test scores be sent when applying.

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FAQ About the SAT Subject Tests

What are the SAT Subject Tests?

SAT Subject Tests (formally SAT II Tests) are one hour tests designed to measure students' knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, as well as their ability to apply that knowledge. Subject Tests fall into five subject areas.

U.S. History
World History
Math Level 1
Math Level 2
Biology E/M
Chinese with Listening
French with Listening
German with Listening
Spanish with Listening
Modern Hebrew
Japanese with Listening
Korean with Listening

“Dr. Garber managed to extract more thoughtful self expression out of my eighteen year old brain than I thought possible. With her help, I was able to "shock" many of those who knew me at the time with my college admissions.”

~Thomas Wagner - University of Chicago

Why do students take the Subject Tests?

Students take the Subject Tests to demonstrate their mastery of English, History, Mathematics, Science, and Language. The tests are independent of any particular textbook or method of instruction. The tests' content evolves to reflect current trends in high school curricula, but the types of questions change little from year to year.

Many colleges use the Subject Tests for admission or course placement. Used in combination with other background information, they provide a dependable measure of academic achievement and are a good predictor of future performance. Some colleges specify the Subject Tests they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take.

When should I take the SAT Subject Tests?

Students are advised to take some Subject Tests (for example, Biology E/M and United States History) as soon as they complete a course of study in that subject, while the material is still fresh in their minds. Other Subject Tests, such as languages, require several years of study in the subject.

For more information on the SAT Subject Tests visit:


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Helpful SAT Links

About SAT Tests
Register for the SAT
Students with disabilities
Practice Questions
Practice Questions, Subject Tests

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FAQ about the ACT

What is the ACT?

The ACT is an academic achievement test that is offered five times a year. It contains four sections, including English, Mathematics, Reading and Science, as well as an optional Writing Test. The actual test time is 3 hours; the optional writing test is an additional 30 minutes.

What material is covered in the ACT?

The ACT English test measures students' understanding of grammar and rhetorical writing skills. The reading test includes four passages: one each of fiction, humanities, social science and natural science. The math test assesses skills up to trigonometry. The science test measures the student's reasoning ability with scientific information, including charts, data interpretation and experiments. The writing test is a 30-minute essay that measures writing skills.

How is the ACT scored?

Scores for each subject range from 1-36; the average of the four subjects is the composite score. A 36 is the highest possible composite score.

How is the ACT Writing Test scored?

Students who choose to take the optional 30-minute essay are given two additional scores. The essay is read by two trained readers who provide a sub-score ranging from 2-12. Additionally, students receive a combined English/Writing score that ranges from 1-36.

Can I choose which ACT scores are sent to the colleges?

Yes, if the ACT was taken more than once, students can choose which scores to release to their colleges. However, a student may not combine scores from different test dates.

Which colleges accept the ACT?

All colleges and universities in the U.S. accept the ACT.

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Helpful ACT Links

Test Dates
Register for the ACT
Students with disabilities
ACT Test Prep

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Our Testimonials:


“I will always be very grateful to Dr. Garber for guiding my son through the college admissions process with her calm, clear approach - qualities I seemed to lose when it came to this project.” ~Gill Wagner

“Dr. Garber managed to extract more thoughtful self expression out of my eighteen year old brain than I thought possible. With her help, I was able to "shock" many of those who knew me at the time with my college admissions.” ~Thomas Wagner - University of Chicago

“Garber Academics was a great resource for tutoring and ISEE preparation for our two children. Their ISEE scores improved dramatically through Dr. Garber's educational program and her "best in class" personal tutoring staff. The results were instrumental in our application process to middle school as both children are now placed in their top choice of school.” ~Rulivia Wong

“We have a son and daughter, different people with different strengths and weaknesses. Both sailed through the ISEE with confidence and came out with outstanding scores, thanks to Ann and her excellent staff.” ~Rebecca Kelly and Jack Nicholson

“Ann made our homeschooling experience a huge success. She handled the legal issues, hired inspiring teachers, developed an exciting curriculum, and ultimately gave our children an amazing academic year that put them ahead of their grade level. Beyond offering a professional service, she became a good family friend.” ~Justin Chang and Amanda Brown

“Garber Academics helped our two daughters navigate both the private secondary school and college admissions process. Ann's perceptive observations of the personalities of each school, combined with her insightful and patient guidance, saved countless hours of time and trouble. We highly recommend Garber Academics to any family that desires a through and personalized approach to the admissions process.” ~Hildy and Walter Hill

“Garber Academics is focused on the whole child. Our child greatly benefited from their team's ability to identify and meet his intellectual needs. Whether preparing for standardized tests, studying for classes, or planning a college entrance strategy, Garber Academics' associates succeeded in bringing out the best in a student.” ~Karen Sulzberger and Eric Lax

“Dr. Garber has assembled a first-rate team of tutors and counselors. Her guidance with test preparation and admissions strategies is outstanding. We highly recommend her to families wishing to reduce the stress to succeed with this process. The Garber Academics team also provides exceptional in-home tutoring, showing true commitment to bringing out a child's full potential.” ~Cookie and Earvin “Magic” Johnson

“The combination of Dr. Garber's extensive knowledge of the college admissions process, along with her ability to really connect to students resulted in our son's admission to his top choice of colleges.” ~Dr. Gary and Gigi Small

“I've had the privilege of woking with Garber Academics through three secondary school admissions and two college admissions, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this point. Nonetheless, my skills pale by comparison to the professionalism, attention to detail, quality of support, and comprehensive care provided by Ann and her talented staff. She has consistently selected and matched the best tutors for each of our children, and provided in-depth analysis of their strengths, areas of improvement, and progress, and she never lets you feel as though you are alone in the process. I would recommend her unequivocally to all who are facing this daunting process.” ~Ken Siegel

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