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Keystone Testing “Hacks” for HS Students

Testing TipsThere is still a week left of Keystone testing. Despite strange myths that exist, cyber school students DO take standardized state assessments just like every other school. Many cyber schools use resource centers or rent facilities to administer the tests in the same window as other students in the state. This year, Keystones are administered between May 16 – 27. Looking for a way to beat the test? Check out these 7 testing hacks below!

Testing Hacks

1. Plan your naps! Napping the day before a test can throw off your sleep schedule that night, leaving you more tired than you were before. If you are really exhausted after testing, a quick power nap can be a great way to recharge!
2. Stuck on how to start a compelling composition or written piece? Start with your favorite quote, or lyrics from a popular song to help you tell your story or support your arguments.
3. Empty your head – Before the test take a 5 minute brain dump. Writing everything you possibly can on a piece of paper about your feelings towards the test can ease nerves and anxiety. If you are worried about forgetting formulas or keywords quickly jotting them down is a good way to jog your brain as a last minute reminder.
4. Snack smart. Packing a few small candies can give you a quick burst of energy if you feel yourself starting to lag during the test, but beware – stay away from chocolates that will melt in your pocket! PA Virtual students are given snack breaks; do not eat during the test!
5. Pack smart, too. You probably need more than snacks to make it through the long hours required to sit for Keystones. If you are unfamiliar with the testing site, bring an extra layer to keep warm, etcetera.
6. Work backwards. Before reading passages, jump ahead and read the questions being asked at the end. This will tell you what to look for while reading, and always read the passages more than once if time allows.
7. Know when to go. Cyber students come from all over the state to different testing sites, so you might have to spend some time in the car before actually sitting for the test. Once you arrive, ask your test proctor where the restroom is so you don’t discover you need it in the middle of question 14.

What are your best tips for successful testing? Let us know in the comments below!

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Are You Ready for Prom?

PA Virtual Prom

For most high schools, Prom is less than a month away. Many seniors have already picked their dates and their outfits, and are anxiously awaiting this special event. For those of you who haven’t gotten everything quite worked out yet- we got you covered!

This day is meant to be special and also very fun; it’s truly a celebration of finishing high school before you move on to the next phase in your life and getting to spend this special time with all of your friends and classmates.  Don’t stress and make sure to enjoy the day!

Girl’s Guide to Prom


  • Prom dress shopping can be stressful- and expensive but it doesn’t have to be!
    If you live in the Philly area, Salon Blush is offering free prom dress rentals. If you are in need of a prom dress, please call Salon Blush at 215-634-1606 to make an appointment to pick out your dress. See more at:
  • There is no need to break the bank on a dress. Find something that you feel comfortable and confident in. Take a look at your local thrift store or consignment shop- many times girls donate their dresses after prom. Many of these dresses have only been worn once.


Makeup & Nails

  • When in doubt, keep it simple. Again there are many makeup tutorials available to give you the perfect prom look.
  • Many times girls choose to get their nails done for prom. If you’d like to do it yourself, gel nail polish offers a very polished look (Ha!).


  • Traditionally girls give their prom dates a boutonnière.  A boutonnière is a floral decoration worn by men, typically a single flower or bud. Boutonnière is the French word for “buttonhole”. These can be ordered in advance in the floral department of many grocery stores.

Guy’s Guide to Prom

Tux/ Suit

  • Guys typically wear a tux or a suit to prom. These can be rented or purchased. Guys can also wear dress pants, a dress shirt, blazer and tie.
  • Guys can also take a look at their local thrift store or consignment shop for prom wear.

Tie/ Handkerchief

  • The tie and handkerchief give the opportunity for expression. Guys typically choose to match the color of their tie/handkerchief to their date’s dress color.
  • Ties are fun because they are so many varieties. Skinny ties, traditional, bow ties, stripes, polka dots- there is so much to choose from! Have fun with it!
  • Here a quick reference on how to tie a tie- they provide many other knot options too!


  • A corsage is a small bouquet of flowers traditionally worn on a woman’s wrist at prom.
  • These can be ordered in advance in many grocery stores’ floral department.


  • Have a great time!

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Posted on: May 16, 2016 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in



The New SAT

Did you know about 72% of PA Virtual students continue their education in some way after graduation? Students preparing to enroll in college should take the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or ACT before graduation. In 2016, some major changes were implemented to the SAT assessment. From here on out, here are a few things students should be prepared for when signing up to take the SAT:

Timing is Everything

  • Clocking in at 3 hours and 50 minutes (including the essay), the new SAT still takes up a good portion of your Saturday morning.
  • You can expect the Math and Evidence-Based Reading & Writing sections to each be broken into two parts, lasting anywhere from 35 minutes to 65 minutes.
  • Fall testing dates are set for October 1 and November 5, but interested students should sign up at least a month ahead of time. High schools all over the state offer the test on different days, so cyber students will be able to take the test somewhere close to home!

The Perfect Score

  • The number for “perfection” is back to 1600 – a number many of your parents are familiar with. 800 points is the maximum for Math and Evidence Based Reading & Writing.
  • Instead of a 2400 point scale, where 800 points were at stake for your essay, the essay portion will now be optional and not count towards your final score.

Writing Fun

  • Recent grads can tell you all about the mandatory essay – which is now gone! The new writing portion is drastically different from what your older peers may have experienced and is now completely optional.
  • The writing prompts for the new SAT are said to be similar to the prompts used in the AP English exam. Before, students were able to illustrate their writing abilities by expanding on a wide variety of topics, but now students will be asked to analyze passages about history or science and use your writing skills to explain how the passage builds a claim or argument.
  • While the essay itself is optional, certain colleges will require an essay score for an application. Find out which schools require or recommend the essay here!

So, why the changes? The SAT came under critique for allegedly using words and phrasing that “tricked” students in to choosing wrong answers, and purposely making the test more difficult than necessary. The new changes are said to better reflect the Common Core, which many high schools have adopted– just like the PA Core Standards we build our curriculum around.  Now that you know what to expect, if you are worried about taking the test, find a study buddy, enroll in an SAT test prep course, or take free practice tests online!

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