The College Entrance Exams: ACT and SAT
Here is everything a junior in high school - and their parents - need to know about the ACT and SAT!
What are these tests?
They are college entrance exams that most universities require for admission. While most require them, a few don't. Here’s a list of colleges that don’t require the ACT or SAT.
When should a student take the test?
Ideally, students should prep for the ACT and SAT tests during the summer prior to their junior year of high school.
During the fall or winter of their junior year, students take an ACT and a SAT test in order to determine which test they feel most comfortable with/do better on. Comparison charts can help you make that decision.
Students should continue taking that test during their junior year, with their goal being to obtain the SAT/ACT requirements of the universities they are considering.
SAT added a new August test date in 2017 that will allow students to take the SAT twice before early applications are due, easing some of the stress of test taking during their junior year.
This year, ACT will be offering an ACT test in July, so it looks like summer testing is here to stay.
Should I take the Writing portion of the ACT or SAT?
Know that Florida state universities no longer require the writing portion of the ACT and SAT test. However, if you are applying to a private, an out-of-state, a highly selective, or an Ivy League university, it is always best to take the writing portion. You can check on each university’s admission website to see which universities require the writing portion.
How do I sign up for the test?
Here is the link to our website, where you can find test dates and register for both the ACT and the SAT. Some tips:
The first time you register for the SAT, it can take about 40 minutes, a bit less for the ACT test.
If you are applying to Florida public universities, make sure to sign up to send your scores to four universities for free – take advantage of this opportunity every time you register for a test. Florida public universities only look at your best scores and do not penalize you for low test scores.
For out-of-state, highly selective universities, and Ivy League universities: test, then choose the best scores and send them after completing all of your testing. Contact us, we can help you decide what is best for your application.
If you are on free/reduced lunch, go to your Guidance Department of your high school and ask for a SAT and ACT waiver to sign up for the test. These waivers will allow you to take a total of 2 SAT and 2 ACT tests for free.
Make sure to print out your admission tickets and check out the Test Day Checklist for the SAT and Test Day Checklist for the ACT.
How does a student prep?
The best prep can be very different for each student. A general rule is that a self-motivated student – one who does not require reminders to do their homework – can find almost every type of prep useful.
A student who requires prompting and gets distracted easily would most likely benefit from a structured class.
Here are the different types of prep I recommend:
Individual prep with a private tutor. This works best if a student has a weakness in a particular area – for example, they need to work on a particular subject, say geometry or reading comprehension.
Group prep with a company or organization. Good for all students – important to find the right company and level of class for each student.
Paying for online prep. Some websites, like PrepScholar actually guarantee results.
Free online prep with Khan Academy offers 7 free practice tests, 5,000 practice questions and online tips. I recommend all students take advantage of this amazing and FREE prep.
Online ACT $39 prep class; free for those on free/reduced lunch. Again, this is very inexpensive and excellent prep for the test. And it will be free to all starting in the fall of 2018!
ACT or SAT books. These books include practice tests, tips, study questions. In addition, ACT and SAT have topic/subject books which can help you improve your score in your weak area. ACT and SAT books are available online or you can borrow them from your school’s Media Center. This type of prep is best for the self-motivated student, and especially useful for increasing the science score of your ACT.
Bottom line: if you put in the work, studies show that your scores will go up. But just like a sport or musical instrument, daily practice and dedication are necessary to increase your scores.
How do I know if I did well on the test?
Here’s information on how to interpret SAT scores and ACT scores to help you best understand the results of your test.
How do I find out what SAT and ACT scores the universities I’m interested in require?
Here’s the Florida Matrix which will allow you to know what the Florida public state universities require as far as testing scores and GPAs.
Here’s an amazing website that provides much more than SAT and ACT information.
For any university, you can simple Google “freshman profile at ______ university”, and the admissions information will come up.
What else must I consider as far as ACT and SAT test scores?
Your ACT and SAT scores not only allow you to gain admission to college, but can also help you in obtaining scholarships. Many universities, along with Florida Bright Futures, offer amazing scholarships requiring strong SAT and ACT scores.
Basically the better your ACT or SAT score, the greater chance you have of obtaining scholarships, especially in conjunction with an excellent GPA.
Need assistance with your plan for taking the SAT/ACT and Subject Tests? Click here to make an appointment.