SAT & ACT FAQ
HOW CAN WE PREPARE OUR STUDENTS TO TAKE THE ACT?
- Remember that the best preparation and approach is through rigorous school coursework, as our assessments are curriculum-based.• Communicate the College Readiness Standards and ACT data to your curriculum directors and department chairs to ensure that the rigor is in place.• Provide your students with opportunities to become familiar with the format and pace of the ACT:-Share or make use of the test prep booklet “Preparing for the ACT,” available at http://act.org/aap/pdf/preparing.pdf-Encourage your students to access the student site for other available information: www.actstudent.org -Place the “ACT Question of the Day” link on your school website: http://www.actstudent.org/qotd/
Which tests should I take?
PSAT as a junior - this is a must. PSAT is offered once a year in mid-Oct. The Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a co-sponsored program by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
SAT or ACT: Most colleges will accept either SAT or ACT scores for admission. Check to see if the school you are interested in requires or recommends the writing part. If they do, then you must register for ACT Plus Writing. The new SAT includes writing. Students should take the SAT or ACT in the spring of the junior year.
SAT Subject Tests: Only when a college you are applying to requires them.
Why should I take the PSAT? Why not just take the SAT?
The SAT is used for college admission, but PSAT/NMSQT scores are not sent to colleges. The PSAT/NMSQT Score Report gives you personalized feedback on areas in which you could improve, along with specific advice on how to improve. The PSAT/NMSQT Score Report also gives students the correct answers to items missed. Students are given back their test booklet so they can use the score report and test booklet to see which items they missed and why.Taking the PSAT/NMSQT is the best practice for the SAT.Taking the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior gives you a chance to qualify for scholarship and recognition programs.
What will I be asked to write about in the essay?
SAT: The essay question will ask you to develop a point of view on an issue and support it with examples from your studies and experience. You can answer the question successfully in many different ways. You won't have to have any prior knowledge about the topic to write an effective essay. However, you will have to answer the essay assignment directly. ACT Plus Writing: The test consists of one writing prompt that will define an issue and describe two points of view on that issue. You are asked to respond to a question about your position on the issue described in the writing prompt. In doing so, you may adopt one or the other of the perspectives described in the prompt, or you may present a different point of view on the issue. Your essay score will not be affected by the point of view you take on the issue.PSAT: There is no written essay in this test.
Will colleges see my essay? How will they use the new writing score?
Different colleges will use your writing score in different ways. Writing scores may be used for admissions decisions and possibly for placement in English Composition or related courses. However, for the first few years, some schools may choose to use writing scores for research purposes only, and not for decisions about admissions or placement.SAT: A college will be able to view and print a copy of your essay only if you sent an official score report to that college.ACT: If you took the ACT Plus Writing, the colleges and high school to which you have ACT report your scores will receive your Writing scores and comments along with your subject area scores and Composite. These colleges and your high school will also have the option to access an image of your actual essay online.
What about students with disabilities?
SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, AP: The College Board is committed to ensuring that students with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations on its tests. These tests are: SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests, Advanced Placement Tests (AP), and PSAT/NMSQT.
If you have a documented disability you may be eligible for accommodations on College Board tests (i.e., SAT, SAT Subject Tests, AP, PSAT). If you are seeking accommodations on a College Board test, you must complete a Student Eligibility Form. Please see your counselor for this form and additional information. The College Board's procedures for determining appropriate accommodations on its tests provide for considerable flexibility or customization to accommodate your special needs There are four major categories for testing accommodations:
Presentation (e.g., large print; reader; Braille; Braille device for written responses; visual magnification; audio amplification; audiocassette; sign/oral presentations),
Responding (e.g., verbal/dictated to scribe; tape recorder; computer without grammar/cut & paste features; large block answer sheet), Timing/scheduling (e.g., frequent breaks; extended time; multiple day; specified time of day), and
Setting (e.g., small group setting; private room; special lighting/acoustics; adaptive/special furniture/tools; alternative test site [with proctor present]; preferential seating).Learn more about testing for students with disabilities at www.collegeboard.com
ACT: ACT is committed to serving students with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations appropriate to the student's disability. ACT has established policies regarding documentation of an applicant's disability and the process for requesting accommodations. For details, see ACT Policy for Documentation. If you currently receive accommodations in school due to a professionally diagnosed and documented disability, you may provide documentation to support a request for one of the following:Center Testing #1: Standard Time National Testing with AccommodationsCenter Testing #2: Extended Time National Testing (50% more time). If approved, you will be allowed up to 5 hours total to work on the multiple-choice tests at your own pace, including breaks between the tests. If you are taking the Writing Test, you will be allowed up to 5 hours and 45 minutes total; however, you must complete the multiple-choice tests within 5 hours. Special Testing: At specially arranged times with extended time and alternate formats available-not as part of national testing The information you provide to ACT about your disability will be treated as confidential and will be used solely to determine your eligibility for accommodations. Details about your testing accommodations will be shared only with the testing staff and will not be released to anyone else. For more information about services for students with disabilities visit the ACT website at www.actstudent.org.
How many times can you take these tests?
PSAT - The PSAT is available once per year in mid-October.SAT - You can take the SAT as many times as you want. Your score report shows your current test score, in addition to scores for up to six SAT and six Subject Test administrations.ACT - You can take the ACT as many times as you want. ACT research shows that of the students who took the ACT more than once: 55% increased their Composite score; 22% had no change in their Composite score; 23% decreased their Composite score. ACT allows you to choose the scores you want sent to colleges.
What's the difference between the SAT and SAT Subject Tests?
The SAT measures the critical thinking skills you'll need for academic success in college. It assesses how well you analyze and solve problems. SAT scores are used for college admission purposes because the test predicts college success. The Subject Tests are one-hour, primarily multiple-choice tests in specific subjects. Subject Tests measure knowledge or skills in a particular subject and your ability to apply that knowledge.
Which Subject test(s) should I take?
To find out which test(s) you should take, contact the colleges you are interested in attending. Most colleges require the SAT for admission and many other schools require both the SAT and Subject Tests for admission purposes or placement. Additionally, some colleges require specific Subject Tests while others allow you to choose which tests you take. It's best to check directly with the college admissions offices.
What do test scores tell college admission staff about me?
SAT: Your test scores can tell admission staff how you compare with other students who took the test. That's because all scores are reported on the 200-to-800 scale. For example, if your scores are about 500 on each section, which is the mean (average) score, college admission staff would know you scored about as well as half of the students who took the test. High school grades are a very useful indicator of how students perform in college, yet there is great variation in grading standards and course rigor within and across high schools. Remember, too, that the SAT is only one of a number of factors that colleges consider when making admission decisions.
ACT: Your national rank tells college admission staff how your scores compare to scores earned by recent high school graduates who also took the ACT. Colleges use ACT results in a variety of ways:
ACT test results, high school grades, academic preparation, out-of-class accomplishments, special interests, and future plans-these and other kinds of information help admission officials identify applicants who can benefit most from their programs.
Colleges usually try to take into account individual strengths and weaknesses as they place students in freshman-year courses. For example, a college may offer three sections of a subject-developmental, regular, and advanced. A student's ACT results, academic background, and high school grades might be used to determine which section would be most appropriate. FOR MORE INFO ON SAT/PSAT/NMSQT/ACT VISIT THESE WEBSITES: www.collegeboard.com and www.actstudent.org