SAT-ACT Test Planning and Guidance for High School Students
If you are a high-school student who is planning on taking SAT and ACT test over next 12 months, here are a few tips you will find useful in planning and preparing for the tests and getting a good score.
1. Do Colleges prefer one test over another? No, more students take ACT test now as compared to SAT test. This trend has been favoring ACT test as many high schools may be giving free ACT prep material that may be driving more students to take ACT test over SAT. Colleges do not prefer one test over another and have enough data over the years to analyze a student’s performance and credentials in addition to their grades, GPA and other data points.
2. Which test to take? This is a tough question to answer as the data from students show that some students do better in one test and some do better in another test. Best approach is to practice both the tests and see which one you are more comfortable with. Also, many students appear for both the tests and either submit those scores to colleges or select the one that favors their application.
Given both the test have equal weightage on English reading and writing, the difference being more on Math side with SAT having more Math sections and ACT having a science section, I suggest students with strong math base to go for SAT and students who may not be strong in Math to go for ACT.
|Comparison of SAT and ACT Test (source: Princeton Review)|
|SAT Test||ACT Test|
|Reading||5 reading passages||4 reading passages|
|Science||None||1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)|
|Calculator Policy||Some math questions don’t allow you to use a calculator.||You can use a calculator on all math questions.|
|Essays||Optional. The essay will test your comprehension of a source text.||Optional. The essay will test how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues.|
|How It’s Scored||Scored on a scale of 400–1600||Scored on a scale of 1–36|
3. When to take the tests and how many time to take tests? Given the SAT & ACT test are designed to test your basic college english, math and science knowledge, they can be easily taken in Sophomore/Junior year (10th and 11th). Since most of the students are very busy in senior year (grade 12th) to apply to colleges, best approach is to finish all the testing by summer after your junior (grade 11th) year. Here is a high level timeline for students for next 12th months.
October or December 2018 – Take a first attempt of the SAT/ACT test
March or May 2019 – Take the second attempt if you want to take another chance and improve your score
Below are the dates for SAT and ACT tests over next 12 months. More information can be found out at college board
|SAT Date||SAT Subject Tests Available||Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline||Deadline for Changes|
|August 25, 2018||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||July 27, 2018||August 7, 2018 (for mailed registrations)|
August 15, 2018 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|August 15, 2018|
|October 6, 2018||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||September 7, 2018||September 18, 2018 (for mailed registrations)|
September 26, 2018 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|September 26, 2018|
|November 3, 2018||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||October 5, 2018||October 16, 2018 (for mailed registrations)|
October 24, 2018 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|October 24, 2018|
|December 1, 2018||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||November 2, 2018||November 13, 2018 (for mailed registrations)|
November 20, 2018 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|November 20, 2018|
|March 9, 2019||SAT Subject Tests not offered on this date||February 8, 2019||February 19, 2019 (for mailed registrations)|
February 27, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|February 27, 2019|
|May 4, 2019||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||April 5, 2019||April 16, 2019 (for mailed registrations)|
April 24, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|April 24, 2019|
|June 1, 2019||See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||May 3, 2019||May 14, 2019 (for mailed registrations)|
May 22, 2019 (for registrations made online or by phone)
|May 22, 2019|
SAT Test dates for International students
2018-19 International SAT Administration Dates and DeadlinesSAT DateSAT Subject Tests AvailableEarly Registration via RepresentativeRegistration DeadlineDeadline for Changes
|SAT Date||SAT Subject Tests Available||Early Registration via Representative||Registration Deadline||Deadline for Changes|
October 6, 2018
|See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||August 22, 2018||September 7, 2018||September 26, 2018|
December 1, 2018
|See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||October 17, 2018||November 2, 2018||November 20, 2018|
March 9, 2019
|See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||January 23, 2019||February 8, 2019||February 27, 2019|
May 4, 2019
|See SAT Subject Tests available on this date||March 20, 2019||April 5, 2019||April 24, 2019|
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||(Late Fee Required)|
|September 8, 2018**||August 10, 2018||August 11-26, 2018|
|October 27, 2018||September 28, 2018||September 29-October 14, 2018|
|December 8, 2018||November 2, 2018||November 3-19, 2018|
|February 9, 2019*||January 11, 2019||January 12-18, 2019|
|April 13, 2019||March 8, 2019||March 9-25, 2019|
|June 8, 2019||May 3, 2019||May 4-20, 2019|
|July 13, 2019*||June 14, 2019||June 15-24, 2019|
|Test Dates||Registration Deadline||(Late Fee Required)|
|September 7-8, 2018||August 10, 2018||August 11-31, 2018|
|October 26-27, 2018||September 28, 2018||September 29-October 19, 2018|
|December 7-8, 2018||November 2, 2018||November 3-30, 2018|
|February 8-9, 2019||January 11, 2019||January 12-February 1, 2019|
|April 12-13, 2019||March 8, 2019||March 9-April 5, 2019|
|June 7-8, 2019||May 3, 2019||May 4-31, 2019|
4. How to prepare for it? Since SAT and ACT tests are designed to test a student’s college readiness and also have a more standardized way to benchmark a student’s performance with others through a standardized mechanism, it is pretty much designed to see your high school understanding of concepts. There are students who get excellent scores without doing any prep. and there are students who cannot get top scores even with all the coaching, tutoring and prep. Today, there are number of good resources to prepare for the test and there are hundreds of thousands of tutors who can work with any student across any location. Some of the well known SAT & ACT prep material come from:
And many more…..
5. What to do if I do not get a good score? Not to worry if you do not get excellent scores. Many students fail to recognize that the weightage of SAT & ACT test scores is far smaller than the weightage of their GPA or grades, courses in high school. SAT & ACT test scores are just one of the data points to get a picture of your strengths and academic performance. Many colleges are test optional and many colleges use this data more for scholarships etc. Colleges know many students are not the best test takers and you cannot make an admission decision based on one test performance, hence they tend to look at your high school transcript and LORs more closely than the test scores.
Good luck to all the 2019 college prospects!
Author: Ajay Singh
Ajay is the co-founder of Stoodnt and spent 20+ years in senior leadership roles with companies such as American Express, Cendant and Intel prior to starting Stoodnt. He has a M.B.A. from Harvard, M.S. in Computer Engineering from U.T. Austin and B.Tech from I.I.T Roorkee (India).
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