Sophomores & Juniors: I’m sure you have heard the SAT and/or ACT tests whispered in the halls and dark corners of the school- they will soon take over your life (if they haven’t already). If you don’t already know, they are standardized tests that many colleges use to determine your academic prowess (aside from your GPA and courses) and knowledge of Math, English and/or Science.
Two of the most frequently asked question we get from clients are “Should I take the SAT or ACT?” and “When should I take the SAT or ACT?” Today’s post will focus on answering those questions and explaining what the lesser known SAT IIs are.
Should I take the SAT or ACT?
Back in the dark ages, when the definition of “app” was appetizers, there was only the SAT. ACT was created as a direct competitor to College Board’s singular reign in the college readiness assessment testing department. Since the ACT was relatively untested and we humans generally don’t like change, it wasn’t really considered as an alternative to the SAT nor was it taken seriously by most- especially the more traditional schools (think Ivy League). As more students take the tests, and more colleges accept the ACT as an alternative form of testing to the SAT, ACT became synonymous to the SAT to the new generation (even though they are vastly different in techniques and styles). Now, most universities across the U.S. will look at ACT the same as the SAT. One is not better than another, or preferred by colleges. Regardless, the way to decide between taking the SAT and ACT is simple: pick the one you’re scoring higher in the percentile. If you are scoring in the 88th percentile on the SAT and the 86th percentile on the ACT, you should be spending all of your time in improving your SAT score and taking that test comes junior spring.
Wait, junior spring? That’s when I should take the SAT/ACT?
Yes. Most of our students take the PSAT/PACT during the fall, prepare for a few months and then take the tests during junior spring. The timing is important in not only maximizing your score on the tests, but also on scoring well on your school work, participating/leading in a bunch of extracurricular activities, and acing your APs/IBs; by taking the SAT/ACT in the spring of junior year, you give yourself enough time to practice and improve your score while also giving yourself a few extra shots to take them senior fall if you don’t do so hot during junior spring. Of course, if you are batting perfect scores, feel free to take them whenever you want.
As part of our services, we also hold mock tests throughout the year for SAT and ACT with full length tests- they simulate a real test environment and the students get immediate feedback, all without having to wait or worry the colleges seeing the scores.
So what’s this SAT II thing?
SAT IIs are short for SAT Subject Tests. They are supplemental tests to the normal SAT/ACT tests that test you in different subjects: English, History, Languages, Mathematics, and Science. They are hour long, content based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where you excel. While not required by most, some colleges do highly recommend you take the tests. By taking these subject tests, you are improving the quality of your applications and letting the colleges know that you excel in subject areas other than just SAT/ACT level Math and English.
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