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Preparing for the SAT and ACT

This summer, thousands of students across the nation will take the SAT. According to the College Board, more than “6.7 million test-takers completed the SAT® or a PSAT-related assessment during the 2015-16 school year.” To find out what students need to know before heading to the testing site, we spoke with Meghan Munsey, Director of College Counseling for Stuart Hall School.

What can I do to help my child prepare for the SAT?

Students should review their PSAT scores to analyze strengths and weaknesses prior to taking the SAT. Preparation work of content for the tests should be happening in classes, but there are numerous fee-based SAT and ACT prep courses available outside of schools to assist with test-taking skills. Khan Academy offers free, personalized practice tests plus study and test-taking tips. Be sure to check with your child’s school to see if there is a program offered on site. For example, each spring Stuart Hall offers a seven-week SAT & ACT Prep Class through the Georgetown Learning Center.

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

The ACT has English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing assessments. Its composite score maximum is 36. The SAT assesses Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing and Math. This test is based on a 1600 point scale. Colleges and universities will accept either test for admission, so students should take both to see which test is a better fit. Some students tend to test better on one test versus the other.

How important are test scores to the college app process?

Scores are a part of the process, but only one piece of the data that are analyzed by college admissions offices. It runs complementary to student course load and grades. Some universities and colleges do not require standardized test scores. These include Wake Forest University, George Washington University, and Old Dominion University. Schools will also “superscore” your SAT scores if you take them multiple times. This means they will take the highest Math and highest Evidence Based Reading & Writing score to give you the highest possible score.

For more information on the SAT and ACT, be sure to visit the College Board and ACT websites. Happy testing!