Some students will take both the SAT® and ACT® standardized tests. Some may prefer one or the other, and some may perform better on one versus the other. Take full-length sample tests to grow more comfortable with each of the tests, and try each once to see if one is more in line with your style as a test-taker.
The SAT® Reasoning Test consists of three types of sections: critical reading, mathematics, and writing. The test length is 3 hours and 45 minutes; total testing administration time is close to five hours. The SAT® intends to measure critical thinking skills and provide an indication of how academically successful you might be in college.
The critical reading portion contains long and short reading passages and related questions which test comprehension. There are also sentence completions which test vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure.
The mathematics section consists of multiple choice questions and student-generated responses. Topics include number theory and operations, algebra and functions, geometry and measurement, data analysis, probability and statistics.
The writing portion includes a 35 minute multiple choice section and a 25 minute student written personal statement section. Students receive separate scores for each and a composite score for the entire writing section. If they request it, colleges will be able to see a student’s personal statement.
Subject Tests are hour-long multiple choice tests on specific subjects. A handful of colleges require that student submit three, several dozen ask for or recommend two and many do not require Subject Tests.
One hour tests are offered in the following areas: Literature, U.S. History and World History, Mathematics I and II, Biology -Ecological, Biology -Molecular, Chemistry, Physics, and a variety of foreign languages including Chinese, French, German,
Spanish, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Japanese, and Korean. Some of the language tests have two versions – one with and one without listening components.
is a multiple choice test, with an optional writing section. The test is four or four and a half hours long, depending on whether or not the writing section is included. The ACT® attempts to assess a student’s general educational development and their potential to successfully complete college-level work.
It is broken down into four subject areas: English, reading, mathematics, and science. The English section covers standard grammar and usage of the English language, as well as rhetorical skills such as organization and style. The math section
covers topics in pre-algebra through intermediate algebra, coordinate and plane geometry, and trigonometry. The reading section tests students’ reading comprehension. The science section tests understanding, interpretation, and analysis of scientific data and hypotheses. The writing section consists of a 30-minute student-generated personal statement in response to a prompt.
PSAT®, SAT® Reasoning and Subject Tests, ACT® Registration
It is a student’s responsibility to sign up for test administrations. You are urged to discuss your testing plans with a counseling office before you register. You register for the SAT® or ACT®, and at other times during the college process. Juniors should take the SAT® in January and/or May, and strongly consider taking the ACT® in April. Seniors take the SAT® in October, November and/or December, or the ACT® in December, if necessary. Keep in mind that some colleges have deadlines for testing if you are applying under an Early Decision/Action program; some colleges require that your testing is completed by the October or November test date. If you enroll in a prep class, it makes sense to take the test as soon as possible following the conclusion of the course.
You will sign up and pay for all SAT®/SAT II® and ACT ® exams on their respective Web Sites. Speak to your guidance counselor about the possibility of qualifying for a fee waiver as they can provide one to you. You will also choose a testing location and date. The sites are:
Anytime you register for standardized tests, be consistent with the name you use; you should use your name as it would appear on your passport. You should also be consistent throughout the process, using this name on personal statement and all applications, correspondence, etc. Using different versions of your name or nicknames can only complicate the situation. If you create an online account for the SAT® or ACT®, hang onto your password, as you will use this account to register, receive and send scores. You can also view your scores online.
Save your SAT® and ACT® testing admission tickets. These include a registration number to use as a reference if you have a problem with your scores.
Getting Your Scores to Colleges
It is the student’s responsibility to send official test scores. High Schools will not send a student’s SAT® or ACT® scores. Keep in mind that sending scores does not happen automatically, and can take several weeks. Plan ahead! Use the four free score reports you get every time you take the SAT®; remember that subsequent scores will not be sent unless you initiate the process.
Parents, please note: To register and send scores, it is helpful for students to have a credit card to use online.