FAQs about the SAT & ACT: Top Ten Questions & Answers

 By     May 4, 2016
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Q: Do colleges prefer the SAT over the ACT?
A: No.  Colleges and universities accept scores for both tests. It’s not true that colleges prefer the SAT.  (Read other myths about ACT vs. SAT.)
Q. Are the SAT and ACT similar?
A.Both tests includes multiple-choice questions in reading, math,and English.  Both tests include an essay section.  However, only the ACT includes a science section.  The two tests are scored very differently and timed differently as well. Get a quick rundown here on the ACT and the SAT.
Q. Which test should my student take: SAT or ACT? 
A: One of the best ways to make this decision is to take both the PSAT and the ACT PLAN before the junior year.  Examine your test results carefully.  Also take into consideration your learning style and which test you feel more comfortable with.  Some students do perform better on one test than the other; for other students, it’s a toss-up.  Our “SAT or ACT for Me?” session helps students make this very important decision. Students don’t have to take both tests, but they can.
Q. My student plays fall sports and is a senior. Should he wait until December or January (after the season is over) to take the SAT/ACT?
A: NO, NO, NO–especially if this is your student’s first attempt.  If your student is serious about college, this part of his/her application cannot take a back seat to sports.  Too many seniors ignore the ACT/SAT and then are under tremendous stress to earn a certain score without enough preparation.  The best plan is get the needed score BEFORE the senior year.  Here’s why.
Q. What if my student is not a good test taker or has text anxiety?
A: Usually this statement simply means that the student is not adequately prepared.  Lack of preparation induces stress, which makes it difficult to concentrate, which ultimately leads to poor performance.  A well-prepared student practices and hones his/her skill set, knows what to expect, and doesn’t waste time worrying about sub-par scores.
Q. My student has an IEP (or 504, etc.). Can a student receive accommodations on the ACT or SAT?
A: Absolutely–but both the ACT and SAT have a process for submitting the necessary documentation, which can take a few weeks.  Read this post about accommodations.
Q. My child is a high school freshman; what can he he/she do now to start getting ready?
A: Read!  Whether taking the SAT or the ACT, students will need to be proficient readers who can understand and analyze a variety of texts (including math word problems).  Students can also take the PSAT; in NC, sophomores take the ACT PLAN.  Both the ACT & SAT offer a free Question-of-the-Day and practices tests on their websites.
Q. Should my student take the PSAT?
A: YES.  For underclassmen, the Preliminary SAT provides firsthand practice for the SAT® and is the best way to assess their readiness level for the SAT and to begin sharpening their testing skills... Taking the PSAT can help with SAT scores and financial aid.  Any student who is serious about earning an outstanding SAT score should take this test.  It measures reading, math, and writing & can be a student’s entryway into the world of scholarship awards and national academic recognition (read more here about the advantages of taking the PSAT).  Juniors must take this test to enter the National Merit Scholarship Corporation program–even if they took it during their sophomore year.  The 2016 PSAT date is Wednesday, October 19 and costs only $14.  Some schools even offer it for free. PSAT Prep starts October 3. 
Q. My student will be taking the ACT/SAT again this fall.  What should she do to get ready?
A: If the Question and Answer Service is available for the previous test date, order it and develop a study plan based on those results.  Identify and prioritize content and skills for practice/review.  Sign up for a class, get a tutor, use a study book–whatever you do, don’t take the test again without a clear idea of how much your want to improve your score and a clear plan to do so. Set up a study plan and FOLLOW THROUGH.
Q. How do I know if my child’s score is “good”?
A: “Good” varies based on which colleges/universities the student is applying to and how much scholarship money he/she wants. Students should do their research beforehand: find out the average scores of admitted students and determine how their scores fall in line.  Students should not get caught up in comparing their scores with those of their friends.

 Have another question?  Email us: aplus@nullaplushigherscores.com.

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