It’s that time of year again. Soon, high school students all around the country will begin taking standardized tests for college. Whether you’re taking the ACT or SAT, it’s always nice to have some pre-test advice. And while I can’t exactly help you with the actual test questions, I can answer some common questions that many students may have.
Q: Where do I sign up for the test?
A: For the SAT, head over to the official SAT website and follow the instructions to register for your test. Do the same thing at the official ACT site to register for the ACT. Public and private schools around the country are made available for testing, so search through the list of nearby schools and choose the testing site that works best for you.
Q: Should I take the SAT or the ACT?
A: While most colleges and universities only require one of these tests, it can help to take both. Many colleges require, or prefer, SAT scores over ACT scores. I recommend taking the SAT first, and the ACT can always act as another positive to add to your transcript. Before signing up, look at which colleges you are applying to, and see which test they prefer.
Q: Should I study?
A: Absolutely. There are many SAT/ACT prep courses, websites, books, etc all meant to boost your scores. While the tests are labeled as standardized, some information, such as vocabulary, will prove challenging to many students. I guarantee if you spend time in any of the above listed prep opportunities, your score WILL be much higher.
Q: What do I need to score?
A: Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. However, there are helpful resources to help you decide. Some colleges and universities weight SAT/ACT scores heavier than others. Also, some colleges ask for higher scores than others do. I, once again, highly recommend visiting your prospective colleges’ websites and looking for their past class statistics and requirements.
Q: Do I need to take any SAT II’s?
A: SAT II’s are subject tests the SAT offers to test a student’s knowledge in a particular subject. Depending on your major selection, and college choice, you might be required to take an SAT II in a relevant subject area. As an engineering major, I didn’t take any SAT II’s. However, I know that those students who did take them had an enormous leg up in the application process.
Q: What tips do you have for actually taking these tests?
A: Relax! Study far ahead of time so you aren’t cramming last minute. On the days before the test make sure you get lots of rest and relaxation. Cramming before the tests will NOT be pleasant for anyone involved, I promise. Make sure you eat a decent breakfast before the test, and just stay calm!
I know that taking the SAT/ACT can be very stressful, but if you make sure you study ahead of time, I promise you’ll do well. Check your school or library for any books or tips on SAT information, and check out the websites mentioned above for any more things that I might have forgotten. Good luck!