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Suniti's Advice Corner

What International Students Need to Know About The SAT and ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, May 19, 2017


Applying for college in the US as an international student comes with a unique set of challenges. There’s some getting used to how the US college application system works, in addition to getting up to par on your English if it’s not your native language, and getting ready to transition to life in a new country.

There will be much needed SAT and ACT preparation, and you’re probably feeling more than a little overwhelmed at this point. We get it. That’s why we’ve prepared this list especially for international students on how to prepare for the SAT and ACT.

Get free practice questions and videos right now. 


Decide Which Test to Take

If you’re not sure whether to take the SAT, the ACT, or both, take TestRocker’s self-assessment to help you figure out which test is a better fit for you. 

If you have the time and resources, we recommend that you take both tests. The method of questioning and language used varies between the tests, and one might suit you better than the other, leading to a higher score. 

Know Where and When The Test is

Note that the test dates for international students are not always the same as those for US students. It is easy to be confused between the International and US test dates on the testing sites. The following tables include upcoming test dates and deadlines for international students. Remember that you can (and should) take the tests at least 2 times (max 3 times) so that you can get the highest combined superscore

TABLE: SAT Dates and Deadlines for International Students

Test Date

Registration Deadline

October 7, 2017

September 8, 2017

December 2, 2017

November 2, 2017

March 10, 2018

February 9, 2018

May 5, 2018

April 6, 2018


TABLE: ACT Dates and Deadlines for International Students

Test Date

Registration Deadline

September 9, 2017

August 4, 2017

October 28, 2017

September 22, 2017

December 9, 2017

November 3, 2017

April 14, 2018

March 9, 2018

June 9, 2018

May 4, 2018

Check online to find SAT and/or ACT test centers nearest to you. Keep in mind that the test center might not be in your school.

Register Early!

The number of SAT and ACT test centers internationally is not high enough to accommodate the increasing number of test takers. Also, many test centers are being shut down due to cheating scandals etc. For this reason, register for your desired test dates as soon as possible to secure your spot. You don't want to be in a situation where the test date you want or need is unavailable. 

Don't Try to Memorize or Study Last Minute

Many of you are probably used to memorizing content and studying last minute for exams. We know this strategy works well for a large number of tests you've had to take so far. Unfortunately, the SAT/ACT cannot be aced through memorization and last minute cramming. You have to give yourself enough time to learn/re-learn the concepts that are being tested, in addition to familiarizing yourself with a new testing format. You also have to get used to answering questions in under a minute. 

Get Comfortable With English

For many international students English is not their first language. If this is the case for you, start reading as much as possible in English, whether it be through novels, news articles, or essays. You can find plenty of works in English online. If you’re reading something that’s not in English, try translating it into English in your head. This will help you tremendously not only on the Reading section, but even on the Math section.

Study Vocabulary in Context

If you’re a language nerd, you might have fun memorizing the definitions of obscure vocabulary words. For the purposes of the SAT and ACT, however, this is a waste of time. These tests do not assess your ability to memorize the definitions of words, but rather your ability to use them correctly in context. To see a simple way of learning vocabulary, check out this video about TestRocker’s vocabulary game.



The reason this is particularly important for international students is because the vocabulary used in the US and tested on the SAT, may not be as commonly used overseas. This could be because there's no translation in the cultures language, or even translated it might just not be commonly used. 

Prepare for the Optional Essay Sections

The SAT and ACT offer an optional Essay section. For the ACT they call this the writing section. If you’re applying to colleges that require these sections, then you should definitely take it. Even if the schools on your current list don't require the Essay section, we recommend that you take the test with the Essay. If, at a later date, you decide to add on a college that does require the Essay, you won't have to go and take the test all over again. 

At TestRocker, we help you prepare for the essay section by hand-grading your work and providing line-by-line feedback so that you can get the highest possible essay score. 

Know What you Need to Bring to the Test

Whether you’re traveling to the test center from near or far, there are fewer things that will spike your probably already high anxiety levels than realizing you don’t have what you need. Review the checklist of what you’ll need and keep them all in one place the night before.

If you need some extra help studying, TestRocker is here to support you.

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching students how to maximize their SAT and ACT scores, a method she has perfected through tutoring thousands of students globally for more than a decade. 

TestRocker is a one of a kind online SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking our diagnostic test a customized study plan, individualized to students' strengths/weaknesses, allows them to track progress as they work through the program. Each of the 1,200 SAT & 2000 ACT questions on TestRocker are accompanied by video explanations from Suniti. Parents are able to track their child’s progress through biweekly reports.

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