SAT or ACT?
If you’re a junior, you have a big decision to make. Which test should you take, the ACT or SAT?
The ACT has changed. The essay is now scored on a 36 point scale, there is a new format for the prompt (new as of September 2015), and the test has gotten a bit harder. These aren’t big changes, but they’re there. The bulk of the test is the same: it’s a time sensitive test, and there’s a science section.
The SAT launched a brand new test with a brand new scoring scale in March of 2016. While the test has eliminated the guessing penalty and removed the essay from the composite score, it does have its challenges. (Have you taken the SAT and want to better understand your score? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/05/11/why-your-new-sat-score-is-not-as-strong-as-you-think-it-is/ )
The ACT is a time driven test with challenging math and science sections. The SAT is now a time driven test with two challenging math sections and science questions built into the test. The one different between the tests is that the ACT format has been around for a long time. The SAT format is brand new. The big question is– do you want to take a chance on a new test?
The college application process is a daunting one. But trust in the work you’ve put into school. This is one step in your college process. Embrace it! It’s only for a limited time. Pick a test and trust your decision. Get help if you need it. And most of all–Good luck!
How do I get started on ACT or SAT test prep?
You’ve come to the right place. The first question you need to ask is: Do I study well on my own? Because there is wealth of knowledge available to you for free or little cost! The ACT and SAT offer free practice tests as well as test prep information on their websites: SAT or ACT .
The College Board’s SAT books as well as the Khan Academy website offer a wealth of information on the new SAT especially. They are geared toward the self-sufficient student.
The ACT also offers a great deal of information to help you get started.
An SAT or ACT Boot Camp is also a great way to learn the ins and outs of each test. These are usually one or two day classes that cover the entire test. They move fast, so take great notes. By the end of the session, you will feel overwhelmed. Those notes will make all the difference! They almost always give you test prep materials that can help you continue on your own. Boot Camps are also a great way to test drive a test prep company– see if you like the teacher, the material, the technique.
If you need someone to help you focus or if you’re aiming for a specific score, then work with a knowledgeable tutor. You want someone who knows the test, the current version of the test, and who you like to work with. Not all personalities go together. Make sure you find someone who makes sense to you! You also want to make sure you are working with current materials (this is vital for the 2015-2016 academic year!).
Lastly, make sure you have the time. Tutoring only helps you if you can put in the work. No one can take the test for you. You will most likely take 2-3 tests, either SAT or ACT. Don’t take the test cold! There are rookie mistakes that can cost you points. Learn what those are first! Your future is at stake.
This is your chance to put your best self forward. Then go get the future you deserve!
What should my goal SAT or ACT test score be?
After years of working with students on test prep, I can tell you having a clear goal score is one of the most important aspects of test prep. If you begin test prep without a solid goal score, you’re prepping in the dark. It’s a lovely way to spend your off time, but don’t you want to know when you can stop practicing for the ACT or SAT?
It’s also a motivation factor. As you get closer and closer to the score you need, you also see the finish line. How wonderful would it feel to send in your college applications knowing you had a score that fit the bill?
You want to know when you’re safe.
What score you needs depends on many factors specific to you!
- What colleges are you interested in?
- What is your GPA and does it match these schools?
- What your dream school is?
- How well you take standardized tests?
- How much do you care?
You have to decide what colleges you plan to apply to. This decision needs to be based on many personal factors: GPA, field of study, geographic area, proximity to home, finances, willingness, and much more.
So take a breath. Sit down with your parents, college counselor, favorite teacher, and whoever else gets a say in where you go to college and start talking. The one piece of advice I can give you is aim high. I can’t tell you how many kids come back after a summer of touring schools only to realize their once perfect score is now too low to get him or her into the dream college and the prep begins again. You don’t want to be that student.
The good news is if you’re reading this, you do care. I promise test prep is for a limited time only. Get your score. Sleep sound. And have a bright future!