What is the SATÒ?
· A 3-hour exam that measures two skill areas: verbal and mathematical reasoning.
· Exam consists of seven sections: three verbal reasoning, three mathematical reasoning, and one variable section (of either type) that is not graded. Each subject is divided into two, 30-minute sections and one, 15-minute section. The variable section consists of one, 30-minute section.
· The maximum possible combined score for the exam is 1600, 800 verbal and 800 mathematics.
What is the ACTä?
· A 3-hour exam covering four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning.
· The exam consists of 215 multiple-choice questions.
· The maximum possible score is 36.
How do the SATÒ and ACTä differ?
· There are many differences between the two exams, including:
o They are administered by different organizations. The College Board administers the SATÒ while ACT, Inc. administers the ACTä.
o The SATÒ tests general verbal and mathematical reasoning skills while the ACTä is more closely tied with high school curricula.
o The ACTä contains only multiple-choice questions, while the SATÒ contains some mathematical questions requiring students to generate their own responses. These questions measure a student’s ability to solve problems, and are designed to test at a level that would require students to have taken a year of algebra along with some geometry.
When do students take the SATÒ/ACTä?
· High school students take the exam generally during their junior spring semester or senior fall semester. Nearly half of students taking these exams choose to take the exam more than once.
· If the ACTä is taken more than once, the student decides which score to report to the colleges they have selected.
· If the SATÒ is taken more than once, all scores are reported to the colleges the student has selected. Colleges vary on the policy of determining which scores, or combination of scores, they use in admissions decisions. For example, one college may use the highest score where as another college may use an average of all of the scores received for a particular student.
· The SATÒ is administered seven Saturdays each year (October, November, December, January, March, May, and June). A calendar of SAT testing dates is available at www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/calenfees.html.
· The ACTä is administered six Saturdays each year (September, October, December, February, April, and June). A calendar of ACTä testing dates is available at www.act.org/aap/regist/actdates.html.
How do the SAT and ACT compare?
Which test is more difficult?
What is the best way to prepare for the SATÒ/ACTä?
· Taking a rigorous and challenging academic courses in high school, like the Core 40 and Academic Honors Diploma curricula, is the best way to prepare for either test.
· Familiarize yourself with the organization and content of the tests while refreshing knowledge and skills in certain content areas.
· The College Board offers a variety of test-prep materials for the SATÒ. These include a free practice test provided in the registration booklet; “PrepPacks” for each section, interactive software, and a book containing practice tests for additional costs. These materials can be ordered directly from the College Board’s Web site at: www.collegeboard.com.
ACT, Inc. also offers a variety of test-prep materials.
These include a free practice test with scoring key provided in the registration
booklet; interactive software, and several books offering practice tests for
additional costs. These materials can be ordered directly from the ACT
AssessmentÒ Web site
Is there a formal preparation exam for either the SATÒ/ACTä?
Yes, the College Board offers the PSATä, which
includes the same types of verbal and math questions as the SATÒ plus
writing skills questions like those on the SAT II: Subject Test in Writing.
Because the questions are the same level of difficulty, PSATä practice
questions can help you prepare for the SATÒ. Students generally take this exam
during their sophomore and/or junior year, and the state of
ACT, Inc. offers the PLANÒ exam for sophomores to provide a
midpoint review of a student’s progress in high school.
This exam is also paid for by the state of
Should students take the PSATä or PLANÒ?
· Yes. Both the PSATä and PLANÒ will help you become more comfortable with the SATÒ and ACTä, respectively, in terms of timing, content, types of questions, etc. Studies generally show that students taking these preparatory exams receive higher scores on the SATÒ and ACTä.
How important is the SATÒ/ACTäin the admissions process?
· Colleges report that the single most important factor to be weighed in admissions decisions is the student’s transcript, demonstrating grade point average and the rigor of courses taken. The ACTä/SATÒ are intended to supplement the student’s overall admission application (including recommendations, extracurricular activities, etc.).
· Nearly every college or university requires a standardized admissions test, generally either the SATÒ or ACTä.
Which test do colleges prefer?
SATÒ Tip Sheet
ü The College Board Web site at www.collegeboard.com contains a variety of helpful information and test preparation hints, such as:
û Take the PSATä. It has the same kinds of questions as the SAT, but it’s a shorter test. Taking the PSAT as a sophomore or junior is a good way to practice and get feedback as you start planning for college and prepare for the SAT.
û Study the test directions for each question type ahead of time. Use the time you save to answer questions. Be sure to look over the answer sheet beforehand as well. The answer sheet has four pages and you will need to know what answers go in which section. See Taking the SAT I: Reasoning Test for a sample answer sheet.
û Answer easy questions first. You earn just as many points for an easy question as you do for a hard question. Questions of the same type are grouped together. Except for the critical reading questions, the easier questions are at the beginning of the section and the harder questions are at the end.
û Know how the test is scored. On the multiple-choice questions, you earn one point for each correct answer and lose a fraction of a point for a wrong answer, but you don’t gain or lose points if you do not answer a question. You don’t have to answer every question correctly to get a good score. You can get an average score by answering about half of the questions correctly and omitting the remaining questions.
û Guess smart. If you can rule out one or more answer choices for a multiple-choice question as definitely wrong, your chances of guessing the right answer improve. For math questions without answer choices, fill in your best guess since no points are subtracted for wrong answers as they are in all the other question types.
ü There are several SAT preparation materials available through the College Board, including:
û Taking the SAT I: Reasoning Test: Free booklet containing examples of each type of question, explanations of sample questions, helpful test-taking tips and strategies, a complete SAT practice test, scoring instructions, and a calendar of test dates. (Available in your school's guidance or principal's office or online at www.collegeboard.com)
û 10 Real SATs: This book offers test-taking tips, strategies, practice questions, and 10 full-length actual SATs.
Online Resources (www.collegeboard.com):
û Practice Questions: Free review questions and explanations, including a full-length test. Be sure to take the practice exam under time-simulated conditions to decrease test anxiety and improve test-taking skills.
û Mini-SAT: Free, timed online evaluation offering students real test questions with feedback on their performance, a predicted score, and a personal study plan.
û SAT PrepPacks: sets of at least 25 real test questions in both Verbal and Math, with 6 packs for each section containing hints and analysis of test questions.
û One-on-One with the SAT: comprehensive SAT software program that includes a pre-test, full-length real SAT, post-test, and explanations for every answer.
ACTä Tip Sheet
yourself with the content of the ACTä exam: 1) English 2)
ü Take the PLAN exam. This exam mirrors the ACT and provides a good practice experience to better prepare you for the ACT.
û Carefully read the instructions on the cover of the test booklet.
û Read the
directions for each test carefully.
û Pace yourself. The test time limits give nearly everyone enough time to answer all the questions. However, because some tests include reading passages, don’t spend too much time on a single passage or on any one question.
û Answer the easy questions first. After you answer all of the easy questions, go back and answer the more difficult ones.
û Answer every question. Your ACT scores are based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing, so it is to your advantage to answer every question during the time allowed for that test.
ü There are several preparation materials available through ACT, including:
û Preparing for the ACT Assessment: A free booklet available through most high schools and colleges that includes valuable information about the test and a full practice test with scoring key.
û Getting Into the ACT: An authoritative book featuring two complete exams with detailed analyses.
û Sample ACT Assessment Test Booklets: complete tests for practice.
û ACT Assessment® Sample Test Questions: Free sample questions for each section of the ACT are available at www.act.org/aap/testprep/index.html. Explanations of both correct and incorrect answers are given with the correct choices.
û ACTive PrepÒ: This CD-ROM software guides students through a personalized test preparation program using real ACT tests.
 Source: The College Board, 2003; ACT, Inc., 2003.
 Source: The College Board “Q&A: The Complete, Total, All-Purpose Guide to the College Board’s SATÒ”
 Source: College Admissions Assessment: Debunking Myths and Misrepresentations, ACT, Inc.
 Source: Admission websites of