Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?
Q: How do my SAT and ACT scores compare to each other?
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE DECIDING BETWEEN THE TWO TESTS:
Super-scoring: more schools super-score the SAT than the ACT (This decision is controlled by the colleges and is subject to change at any time. Checking the school’s website is the only way to know the school’s current policy.)
SAT Subject Tests: some schools that require SAT Subject Tests do not require the SAT Subject Tests when the student submits the ACT score
SAT and ACT extra time is added to each individual section (if given 1 hour to take the English Language, the student must wait that full hour before moving on to math)
Cancelling of Scores
SAT – you have until 11:59 EDT Wednesday after you take the test to cancel your scores
ACT – If you ordered that your scores be sent to schools, you have until Thursday noon central time after the Saturday you took the ACT to stop your ACT scores from being sent to the schools. ACT also has a process to delete a test from record.
Sending of Scores to Colleges
SAT – scores are ordered and sent in a bundle
ACT – scores are ordered and sent one test at a time
***all of the above information is subject to change – the only way to know the current information is to visit the SAT, ACT or college websites
What is score choice: your ability to choose which test scores you want to send to colleges.
Q: Which schools require that I send every test result? - ALWAYS check the website of the school under consideration to see the school’s current policy. These change often.
Carnegie Mellon University | CMU
College of Charleston
Johns Hopkins University | JHU
Ohio Wesleyan University
University of California System
University of Pennsylvania (from website April 2019: Although we permit Score Choice, we encourage students to submit their entire testing history for both ACT and SAT exams.)
University of South Carolina | USC
Double check the policy on each school’s website incase it changed since this list was created.
Q: Do I need to take Subject Tests?
A: 90 schools recommend or require subject tests-
Schools that require subject tests as of 2017:
Cornell, CalTech, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, MIT, McGill*, Rice*, Tufts*, Webb*
Schools that recommend strongly subject tests
*Asterisk means ACT will be accepted in lieu of Subject Tests
Most Subject Tests are taken in Math and Science.
There IS still a guessing penalty on Subject Tests
Q: Do I need to take the SAT or ACT essay?
A: Only a small number of colleges require the essay.
Colleges that require the essay as of November 2018 (changing often)
Martin Luther College
United States Military Academy (Optional at US Naval Academy)
UC’s (Merced, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz)
Q: What if I signed up to take the essay but decided that I do not want to take it now?
Q: Is there a certain month when the SAT/ACT is easier?
A: No they are all scored on a scale that is determined before the test date.
Q: Is my SAT score a good score?
A: Understanding Scores 2017 by College Board provides a percentage of each score https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/understanding-sat-scores.pdf
This score is equal to or better than this percent of National Sample
SAT ACT = to or better than
950 18 38 percent
980 19 44 percent
1020 20 52 percent
1080 21 63 percent
1120 22 70 percent
1190 24 80 percent
1240 26 85 percent
1290 27 90 percent
1360 29 95 percent
1420 31 98 percent
1450 32 99 percent
1520 34 99+ percent
Q: Will a perfect score get me into my top school?
Q: How is National Merit Selection Index Calculated?
More weight is put on the reading and writing
Drop zeros from the Math and Reading/Writing scores on SAT
Double the Reading/Writing Score
Add the Math and the Doubled Reading/Writing Score to get the selection index
Q: What does Good Test Prep Include?
Content knowledge (MOST important)
Command of strategies
Emotional Control (Dodson Curve)
Optimal Test Management (pacing, specific strategies, specific content focus)
Q: What are QAS and TIR
A: QAS (Question-and- Answer Service) is a service offered by The College Board in October, March and May where you can get the SAT test booklet back and see which answers you missed on the test (The booklet arrives in the mail 6-8 weeks after the test date.)
TIR (Test Information Release) is a service offered by ACT in April, June and December where you can get the ACT test booklet back and see which answers you missed on the test (The booklet arrives in the mail 6-8 weeks after the test date)
Q: Do I even need to take standardized tests?
A: 50 percent of Liberal Arts Colleges are Test Optional
5 of the top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges are Test Optional: Wesleyan University, Connecticut College, Lewis and Clark College, Washington and Jefferson College
National Universities that are test optional
University of Chicago, Wake Forest University, Brandeis University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, American
For a complete list of Test Optional Schools: Fairtest.org
Q: Why do I have to take a practice test with EDNavigators if I already took one somewhere else?
A: I understand that students do not want to sit through another extra practice test and definitely do not want to make anyone’s life miserable. However, I have found that prep works best when the students take a practice test with me. When the students take a practice test with me I am looking at other factors than just the score (pacing, fatigue, test anxiety, bubbling methods etc.) Practice Tests are an important component of my prep method.
Websites for Standardized Testing
CollegeBoard (SAT information/ test dates/registration)
SAT Score Use Practices By Participating Colleges (This list comes from the College Board. Check the specific school website to confirm information.)
ACT (ACT information/ test dates/registration)
All About the AP – A Guide for Students (a comprehensive site created by The College Board)
College Use of AP Scores (search by college to see how each institution uses AP scores..for credit? for placement? for admission?…)
FairTest.org (This site includes a list of 850 four-year colleges do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants. These schools do often require additional essays, minimum GPAs or other supplements to the application. Check the fine print carefully.)