Taking the SAT or ACT exam is usually the first step in the college application process.

These tests are a key component of getting accepted to a student’s college of choice. But they can seem daunting for many students and most do not know how to prepare. And, determining which test to take and when can be a confusing and difficult process.

At Educational Pursuit, we help students alleviate the stress of test taking and the worry about selecting the right test for their educational goals. Below are answers to our most frequently asked questions as well as information about the differences between the SAT and ACT.

Taking the SAT or ACT exam is usually the first step in the college application process.

These tests are a key component of getting accepted to a student’s college of choice. But they can seem daunting for many students and most do not know how to prepare. And, determining which test to take and when can be a confusing and difficult process.

At Educational Pursuit, we help students alleviate the stress of test taking and the worry about selecting the right test for their educational goals. Below are answers to our most frequently asked questions as well as information about the differences between the SAT and ACT.

 

When should students begin to prepare for the SAT or ACT?

For most students, the ideal time to start preparing for these tests is at the beginning of their junior year.

However, there are other factors to consider before signing up for the test. For example, if you are involved in marching band or football, you may want to wait until after the season is over to begin test prep. Or, if you have a heavy AP schedule, you may want to begin testing in early fall so that test prep does not coincide with studying for your AP exams in May.

In addition, students should have taken at least Algebra 1, Geometry, and a semester of Algebra 2 before beginning the preparation process.

Here is the Educational Pursuit recommended timeline:

  • August- October: take an Educational Pursuit SAT course
  • October: take the PSAT at your home school as a “live practice”
  • November – January: take the SAT exams and continue to study the Educational Pursuit strategies 2-3 times a week
  • February- April: take an Educational Pursuit ACT course
  • April and June: take the ACT exams and continue to study the Educational Pursuit strategies 2-3 times a week.The goal is to be finished with all the tests before senior year so that you can focus on college applications over the summer and then enjoy your last year of high school.

What if I am a senior? Is it too late?

No, you still have time. For seniors (or even juniors who begin preparation in the spring of 11th grade), this simply means there are fewer opportunities to take the test, so you must make each test count. Our program can help prepare you in just a few short weeks.

When are the tests offered?

The SAT is offered in January, March, May, June, October, November and December. For actual testing dates, visit www.collegeboard.com

The ACT is offered in February, April, June, September, October and December. For the actual test dates, visit www.actstudent.org

Is there a limit to the amount of times I can take the SAT or ACT?

For the SAT, the answer is no. In fact, this is one of the worst myths surrounding this exam.

The majority of colleges do not care how many times you take the SAT; they are only concerned with the highest score you submit. In fact, most schools will “superscore,” which means they will take the highest reading, writing and math scores from all of your tests and add them together. So, if possible, students should take the test as often as they feel it is necessary.

For the ACT, students are allowed to take the test a maximum of 12 times. This means you can take the ACT every time it is offered during both your junior and senior years.

For more about this, see our article De”Myth”defying the SAT.

Do I need to take BOTH the SAT and the ACT?

We recommend that students should try each test at least once to determine which is a better assessment of their knowledge and skills.

What are the differences between the New SAT and ACT?

The SAT is geared towards measuring a student’s reasoning or critical thinking skills. The ACT is more curriculum-based, testing a student’s knowledge of the subject matter covered in high school. To be more specific, here are some of the overall differences:

SAT vs. ACT
Length: approx. 3 hours approx. 3 hours (3 ½ with essay)
Test format: reading and math (plus optional essay) English, math, reading, science (plus opti
Penalty for guessing: no penalty, so always guess no penalty, so always guess
Reading section: 5 passages to test comprehension and shorter passages to test grammar skills 4 longer passages with less time to read
Math section: basic arithmetic, Algebra 1 and 2, Data Analysis/ stats, fewer questions of geometry
(formulas are provided)
arithmetic, Algebra 1 and 2,
geometry, trigonometry
(no formulas provided)
Writing section: there is no longer a writing section on the SAT covers grammar and punctuation,
essay is “optional” but should be taken since many colleges will not accept scores without an essay
Scoring: 200-800 points per section
average score 1000 (500 each section)
perfect score 1600
1- 36 points per section
average score is 20
all 4 sections are averaged for the “composite”
perfect composite score is 36

 

If you are still not sure which test to take, Educational Pursuit offers diagnostic testing tools to determine which test is best for you. You can also speak with one of our experienced educational counselors who can guide you through the entire process. Email us now to find out more