Lesson 2A: College Application and the SAT and ACT
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What are the major components of the college application?
- [show-hide]Standardized testing – the SAT or ACT[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]High school grades – your transcript[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]Written components – essays, résumé, letters of recommendation[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]The application itself[/show-hide]
ou’re already working on your high school grades, and in most cases, before you ever write essays or request letters of recommendation, you’re thinking about your standardized tests. So, let’s start with the SAT and ACT and go through all the details!
Key things to think about with the SAT and ACT:
- [show-hide]When you should take your tests[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]Which test you should take[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]Whether or not to send your scores[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]How to pay for your tests[/show-hide]
In a perfect world, we would have you take your tests:
The first time: [show-hide]early Spring of junior year[/show-hide]
The second time: [show-hide]June after your junior year[/show-hide]
But, we know the world isn’t perfect, so in a less perfect world, here is when you should take your tests:
The first time: [show-hide]June after your junior year[/show-hide]
The second time: [show-hide]Fall of your senior year (No later than December!)[/show-hide]
ow, let’s take a look at the upcoming test dates for 2013. You absolutely have to register for those tests on time because, if you don’t, the price of the exam doubles! That’s why we’ve listed the ideal registration dates for each test… Register now!
Why you want to register early:
- [show-hide]It saves you money[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]You can pick your test location[/show-hide]
- [show-hide]You may get your scores more quickly[/show-hide]
ow, you know that the ACT and SAT are different, but do you know what makes them different? Let’s talk about the differences, so that you can find out where you may shine. Still, don’t make any major judgments until you take both tests twice, okay? You never know what is going to happen on a given day or on a given test!
How are the SAT and ACT different?
DIFFERENCE 1 - Types of sections
The SAT has 3 types of sections: [show-hide]Reading, Math, and Writing[/show-hide]
Listen to learn more!
The ACT has 5 types of sections: [show-hide]Reading, Math, English, Science, and an Essay[/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 2 - Number and timing
[show-hide]How are SAT sections divided?
25 minute sections: 7
20 minute sections: 2
10 minute sections: 1
How are ACT sections divided?
Math: 60 minutes
English: 45 minutes
Reading: 35 minutes
Science: 35 minutes
Essay: 30 minutes[/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 3 - Scoring
[show-hide]On the SAT:
Each section is scored out of 800. To get your overall score, add up all three scores.
Most schools will take the highest scores from different dates and add them up to the highest score.
On the ACT:
Each section type is scored out of 36. To get your overall score, you find the average the scores. If your average is not an integer, you round up with .5 or above.
This number is called your composite score. Most schools only take the highest composite score.
They do NOT take the highest sections from different tests, also known as Super-Scoring.
In many cases, the SAT is easier to raise than the ACT![/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 4 - Getting answers wrong
[show-hide]On the SAT:
For every question you miss, you lose 1/4 points. So you should skip questions and be prepared to leave blanks.
On the ACT:
The ACT has no guessing penalty, which means you can guess answers whenever you aren’t certain. And you should never leave any blanks!!![/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 5 - The Math
[show-hide]Subjects on the SAT: Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II
Subjects on the ACT: Pre-algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-calculus [/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 6 - The Reading
[show-hide]The SAT has a BUNCH of vocabulary.
The ACT has NO vocabulary, but the reading passages are longer, and the timing may be tighter.[/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 7 - Who performs well
This truly tests your ability to take a test. It does not reflect the intelligence or capacity to succeed. It asks questions very abstractly, and many great students bomb it. Yes, you need to know math and vocabulary, but the questions are very tricky, and it is more like a puzzle than a test.
Good students tend to better on the ACT. The questions are more straight forward, but the timing can be more challenging. So, strong readers do well on the ACT. Still, since you can guess, your chances are better.[/show-hide]
DIFFERENCE 8 - What colleges think
[show-hide]Colleges will accept either test, but it’s pretty interesting that some of the nation’s finest colleges ask for either the SAT and SAT II Subject Tests or just the ACT.[/show-hide]
What if my scores are not very good? Do I still want colleges to see them?
[show-hide]Colleges want to see improvement and dedication.
Even if your scores aren’t amazing, it looks good to show that you care enough to take it more than once. Therefore, it is best to send them.
It’s never going to hurt to show that you tried.[/show-hide]
Can I just send the scores over on my own?
[show-hide]NO!!! The scores must go directly from College Board (SAT) or from ACT. So, you need to plan ahead, since colleges may not always receive the scores you send. You may have to BUG the test companies.[/show-hide]
What if my scores get there before my application?
[show-hide]Well, this happens all the time. When colleges get your scores, they immediately start a file with your name on it. As new material comes in, they add to this file.[/show-hide]
How much does it cost to send additional scores if I need more than are covered by my fee waivers?
[show-hide]For the SAT, additional score reports cost $11. If you need them to be sent by rush, you will have to $31 plus your score report charge.
For the ACT, additional reports cost $11. If you need them to be sent quickly, they are called priority reports, and that costs $16 per school.[/show-hide]