First impressions of the AOL STEM Test based on feedback from our students so far, it appears LCPS achieved what they set out to achieve.

1. Test difficulty as per our students ranged from 6 to 9 (on a scale of 1-very easy to 10-very hard) averaging around 7.5.
2. Almost nothing in common with TJ test.
3. One mild complaint from our students: we over prepared for Spatial Reasoning. Better be over prepared than be sorry when the margins can come down to answering 1 to 2 more questions correctly
4. But I am extremely happy to say, that at least 7 questions (out of 33 total in STEM test) are same or almost identical to what we prepared.

I’ll include snippets of all feedback from my students in a later update once everyone takes the test on the 9th


To better reflect the kind of analytical work students will encounter in their college and their future work lives, the entrance criteria to Academies of Loudoun has changed, starting with the 2019 test date. In comes a new one, The STEM Thinking Skills Test, a completely new test.

This new test is significantly different from PSAT, both in content and test time. The new STEM test is designed to place less emphasis on memorization of fixed knowledge or strategies or rote math, and more emphasis on reasoning, analytical and thinking skills. Gone are the Grammar, Reading Comprehension and PSAT Math. All those hours of work going over quadratics or Circles or simultaneous equations .. poof …gone! This means your prep strategy has to shift. And shift fast you should.

The below are the sections of the new STEM test

      • Out-of-the-Box Algebra (same as one section in Quant-Q)
        A medium difficulty question would be similar to this question — A man covers a distance on his scooter. Had he moved 3 mph faster he would have taken 40 min less. If he had moved 2 mph slower he would have taken 40 min more. What is the distance covered?


    • Spatial-Relational Thinking 
      An example would be a question that shows several views of a 3-dimensional cube that has special symbols or markings on each face or side and then asks a question about the object for e.g an easy one would be which symbol is on the opposite side.
    • Tech Logic
      Logic games, progressions, etc. Some combination of math and reasoning skills. Logic is also becoming more common at the interface between man and machine, in “logic-enabled” computer systems, where users can view and edit logical sentences. Think, for example, about email readers that allow users to write rules to manage incoming mail messages – deleting some, moving others to various mailboxes, and so forth based on properties of those messages. In the business world, eCommerce systems allow companies to encode price rules based on the product, the customer, the date, and so forth. Moreover, Logic is sometimes used not just by users in communicating with computer systems but by software engineers in building those systems (using a programming methodology known as logic programming).
  • Scientific Thinking
    As the name implies, this section is more about interpreting scientific data, making observations, hypothesis testing than actual science.

Fall Admission Cycle Timeline

September 1, 2020 –  Fall admissions window opens for Academies of Loudoun fall 2020 admissions (for AET and AOS programs)

October 23, 2020 – Fall admissions window closes at 12:00 p.m. (noon)

10/31 or 11/7 or 11/14: STEM Thinking Skills Assessment and Writing Assessment

March 2020 – Admission offers will be posted in admissions portal

Admissions tests(highly competitive)

  • 10/31, 11/7, 11/14: STEM Thinking Skills Assessment (50 mins) and Writing Assessment 
    • ??? – Many questions regarding the writing assessment – what is weightage of each test in final aggregate, how is the writing score scaled up etc 

AET or AOS Admission Criteria

  • Successful completion of Algebra by end of 8th grade (students who plan to take Geometry in summer school after 8th grade or Virtual Loudoun-Term 2 cannot be considered)
  • Review of Academic Record
  • STEM Thinking Skills Assessment
  • Writing Assessment
  • Letters of Recommendation from eighth-grade math and science teachers (the automated process through admissions portal for LCPS students) – Not needed for 2020