When should my child start their SAT ACT prep?
The content tested on the SAT and ACT is content that your kids will be learning in school at different points in time. When you begin preparation will depend a lot on what math classes your kids are taking. The math sections on the SAT and ACT cover Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and a little bit of Trigonometry and higher-level math. When your kids are taking these classes, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate some sort of test prep while the topics are still fresh in their mind. That way they won’t have to completely re-learn the material by the time the test comes around. Take a look at this SAT/ACT planning check list.
When is the right time for my child to take the SAT or ACT?
Test scores never expire. So if your child is familiar with all the topics covered, they can take it as early as 9th grade, and those scores will count for their college applications. The vast majority of students don’t take it until 11th grade. The latest that you want to take it is May/June before 12th grade. You want to fit at least 2 test attempts to qualify for SuperScoring as well as getting your application submitted for early decision. Both of these strategies increase your chance at getting accepted.
Nowadays, the SAT and ACT resemble each other more. TestRocker has a short questionnaire to find out which test will be best for your child. There are two main differences between the SAT and the ACT. The ACT has a science section. The science section doesn’t require any prior knowledge going into it. It’s more of a mixture of the reading section and the math section. It measures your ability to interpret graphs, charts, and data. The SAT is more reading intensive, and there are more words you have to get through. If your child is a slow reader, that might be an indication that they’ll do better on the ACT. The vast majority of students do just as well as one as on the other. Try not to spend too much time figuring out which test your child should take, and instead devote that time to preparing and planning.
There’s no limit—you can take it as many times as you want. That said, we recommend you take the SAT 2-3 times and the ACT twice. On the SAT, there’s a practice called superscoring, which means you can take your highest section scores from multiple test sittings and add those together to get your final score. So taking the SAT a third time only works in your favor if you can fit it in. Most colleges don’t superscore the ACT.
Can I send multiple scores to colleges?
Yes. On test day, you can list schools to which you want to send scores. Before test day, it’s a good idea to know school codes so you can list those. Sending multiple scores to the same school is a good way to demonstrate your interest in those schools. Also, most schools SuperScore. Learn how SuperScoring works.
How many months should it take my 10th grader to study for the SAT or ACT?
We recommend getting 30 hours of study time over your entire process. That’s when we see the best results. You can break that up however it fits best in your schedule. This allows you to use the summer and some of your less busy months for studying. The actual number of months isn’t as important. Of course, the earlier you can start, the better.
Do SAT or ACT scores help with financial aid? If a student gets a high SAT or ACT score, can they get more money to pay for college?
Yes and yes. There are different thresholds that different schools apply. There are also other scholarship opportunities independent of the colleges, and qualifications include certain test scores. CollegeInsightPros works with students and their families to figure out the best course of action for saving the most money in college.
I know students who have taken more than 10 practice tests and have not seen score improvements. Why is that? Shouldn’t their scores be going up each time?
While it’s great to get a feel for the test, and you must do this before taking the test for real, continuing to do the same things over and over again without fixing what you’re getting wrong will only get you so far. This is why it’s a good idea to take practice tests once you have a solid understanding of the material. Figuring out where your strengths and weaknesses are and tackling those weaknesses will get you a better score. That’s why at TestRocker, we provide instruction for every single question you answer as part of our program.