Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

ACT/SAT Prep

Our Counselors Answered:

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Start your planning early so you’ll be able to satisfy each school’s requirements. If your scores keep increasing, keep taking tests. Remember this: Plan your work, work your plan. No one plans to fail, but too many people fail to plan.

Natalie Sanchez CamposOwnerNext Step LLC

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I recommend taking the college entrance exams suggested or required by the college or universities. For some, the list of tests will include the SATII/subject tests, AP (Advanced Placement) tests and/or the TOEFL.

Jane McClurePartnerMcClure, Mailory & Baron Educational Counseling

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Here is my video response to the question.

Rod BugarinFormer Admissions OfficerColumbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Here is my video response to the question.

Lily TrayesFounder and CEOIvy League Placement

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Here is my video response to the question.

Jessica BrondoFounder and CEOThe Edge in College Prep

Create an individual strategy

Each student learns (and tests) differently so there is no cookie cutter recommendation for all students, but here are some good suggestions for everyone: 1. Take the PSAT in 10th grade. This will really give you an idea of what the SAT will be like the following year (NO ONE will see your grade so it is purely for practice). 2. If you happen to be in an advanced level class in school, you should look to take the SAT II exam for that particular subject in either May (if you take AP) or June (if you are not in an AP class) while the material is fresh. 3. Take a practice ACT (if available) or register to take the actual ACT in September of your junior year. 4. Take the PSAT again in October of your junior year 5. Your PSAT scores will come out in December. At that point compare your PSAT score with your ACT score and see if one is drastically higher than the other. If one of them is, you should definitely opt to focus on that one. If not, you can take both. 6. You should opt to take the SAT or ACT at least twice, if not three times before applying to college. Target SAT test dates should be March, May, October (of senior year) or January, May, October (of senior year) for international students who don’t have a March test. Target ACT dates should be April, June, September (of senior year). 7. Plan to take more SAT IIs in June of your junior year (or May and then take your SAT in June). Hope this helps!

Jolyn BrandOwner/DirectorBrand College Consulting

The SAT vs. the ACT

Some students perform better naturally on one test over the other. The only way to find out for sure it to take both. Start during your junior year so that you have time to prepare and study for the retakes. Most students will need to retake one of these tests at least once. The last chance to take them is usually fall of senior year.

Annie ReznikCounselor/CEOCollege Guidance Coach

4 Basic Test Strategies

1. Test the waters, early All students should plan to take the PSAT (practice SAT exam) and PLAN (practice ACT exam) during both sophomore and junior years. Early exposure to the format of standardized tests will improve both confidence and performance for the official sitting. Students should plan to take their first SAT and ACT exams early in the spring semester of junior year. This timeline offers students ample opportunity for targeted preparation for a second sitting. 2. Familiarity breeds success The more familiar students are with the format of an exam, the higher the likelihood of earning a score befitting ability. Both the SAT and ACT formats are similar to a crossword puzzle, or the popular television show, Jeopardy!, in that the questions are posed in an unusual format. Frequent puzzlers or quiz show loyalists have an advantage over novices because they get the quirks of how questions are posed. Prior to taking the SAT or ACT, students should understand the layout, question types, and directions that they will encounter. One of the most effective and proven forms of test preparation is taking full practice exams. 3. Senior year sitting Unless you earned a perfect score on the SAT or ACT, always plan on taking a standardized test during senior year. Something happens in the summer between junior and senior year that more often than not improves performance on standardized tests. Whether it is maturity, information synthesis, or greater seriousness of purpose, senior year testing is often the time students earn their strongest score. 4. Take both the ACT and SAT Nearly all colleges and universities accept either the ACT or SAT. It is to a student’s advantage to try both tests and determine a preference. It isn’t necessary to repeat both exams. Only repeat the stronger of the two tests. Keep in mind that colleges and universities want to report high scores, too. So, they will take your best score regardless of test administration.

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

Do you have your suspicions about the college board?

The College Board fancies itself as a non-profit institution. According to their literature, “The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity” and “The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.” (http://www.collegeboard.com/about/index.html) I ask: “excellence and equity” in what? Do they mean excellence and equity in education? If so, it seems more like they are attempting to develop the universal standard for excellence and equity in education. But then again, their statement is not really very clear; they may refer to education, but they may also mean the excellence and equity of their own profit. It reminds me of the saying, “The biggest trick Satan ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. It seems like we all know the College Board exists, but we often overlook the way in which the institution has infiltrated our education system. In fact, one might go so far as to consider The College Board a monopoly. After all, their only competition is the ACT, so the College Board has virtually no pressure regarding their pricing structure. Therefore, one would argue that the cost for services should equal the cost to deliver said services. However, the College Board enjoys inordinate profits. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him? Let’s examine the facts: Cost of Tests and Services SAT Reasoning Test: $45.00 SAT Subject Test: $20.00 for the first test on one day and $9 for each subsequent test (up to three in one day) Send SAT Reasoning or Subject Tests to Colleges (3 to 5 week delivery): $9.50 per college Cost to send SAT Reasoning or Subject Tests to Colleges (2 day delivery): $36.50 per college PSAT/NMSQT: $13.00 (schools sometimes charge additional administrative fees) AP Test: $86.00 each Send AP scores: $15.00 per college College Board’s College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS), a college financial aid application designed to help students pay for college: $26.00 for the first college and $16.00 for each additional college I will point out the obvious here: these only constitute the costs for college admission tests. On top of this, families pay the billion dollar test prep industry for assistance preparing for the tests and colleges charge application fees of up to $100. [In order to double check the absurdity of these prices, I checked the median household income in the United States: $50,740 http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html] Questionable Non-Profit Structure According to information provided by the IRS, the College Board’s revenue is $6,760,690 and its assets are $5,198,705. The net profit equals 5% of what the organization spent on tests. The College Board is located in a mid-town Manhattan building directly across from Lincoln Center (see photo). In 2005, president Gaston Caperton (former governor of West Virginia and businessman – not educator) was compensated over $600,000. As a result of its standing as a non-profit entity, the College Board is not liable for taxes, yet their profits are many times higher than most small business in the country. Even though the government may classify the College Board as a non-profit organization, the classification is inaccurate because the College Board overcharges for products and controls several for-profit subsidiaries (see trademarks below). The College Board also acts as a conduit for ETS (Educational Testing System) which manufactures the SAT and many other standardized tests. The College Board contracts with ETS for services and compensates the ETS well over $100 million per year. Registered Trademarks Not only does the College Board “own” the above listed tests, the organization actually has a trademark for over fifty products. I encourage you to review them at http://www.collegeboard.com/html/trademark001.html. Curriculum Development AP madness has reached epic proportions – and for all the wrong reasons. Advanced placement courses should, in an ideal world, serve to provide students with a way in which they can develop their academic interests in certain areas at a higher level. In the past few years, students have taken up to five AP classes per year! Question: Who creates the curriculum for the AP classes? Answer: The College Board. Question: Who trains teachers how to teach the AP classes? Answer: The College Board. Question: Who benefits most from AP classes? Answer: The College Board (especially at $86.00 per test plus $15.00 per score report). And now…get “ready” for ReadiStep – a new program unveiled by the College Board in October 2008 and “ready” to infiltrate schools in Fall 2009 (www.readistep.com). The program’s purpose is to help teachers make sure that students are on the path to college readiness. Excuse me, but isn’t that what teachers, administrators, parents and school boards are supposed to do? Who decided that the College Board should take on this role? (Answer: the College Board) The new test will of course cost money: $10 per student. Mr. Caperton insists that many districts have been demanding that the College Board develop this program. When he was asked to furnish a list of supposed schools, he offered only two names: (1) Susan Ruske of the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada AND member of the College Board’s board of trustees, and (2) James R. Choike, a professor of mathematics at Oklahoma State University (I ask: how does he qualify as a person who should “demand” said new test?) – who helped DEVELOP Readistep. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Caperton. Threats to Status Quo The University of California System is the largest consumer of the SAT, with 170,000 students applying each year. When the president of the UC system, Richard Atkinson, suggested dropping the SAT because he realizes it is an unfair measurement of a student’s abilities, Mr. Caperton responded, “To drop the SAT would be like deciding you’re going to drop grades” (Associated Press). UC President Atkinson asserted that students can do everything expected of them, but the test distorts educational priorities and practices, causing hard-working students to doubt their abilities. The hardest hit students are from low income backgrounds who cannot afford to have a psychologist diagnose them with a learning difference in order to gain extra time to take the tests or pay absurd prices for test preparation. How did the College Board respond to this incredible threat to their profits? They satisfied the UC System by dropping analogies from the test, adding reading passages of varying lengths, dropping the quantitative comparison section and adding a writing section. They did alright with this compromise until the UC System decided to allow the ACT instead of the SAT Reasoning test. Recently, the UC’s announced that the two Subject Test requirement will be dropped for students enrolling in Fall 2012. ********************************** So, back to that “commitment to excellence and equity”…you decide for yourself. Hopefully enough people will get angry enough to stop the madness that causes so much undue stress and financial burden for families. Corruption pervades our society and economic systems, but only through our outcries of unfairness will a change occur – especially when it impacts our children and our country’s future.

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

There is no one “right” answer

There are choices now as to which test you might prefer- the ACT or the SAT I. With my students, I would say that about one third score better on the SAT, one third score higher on the ACT and the final third score about the same. As a result, I suggest to my clients that they sit for both the SAT I and the ACT in the Spring- compare the results and if they are happy- then they do not need to retest. If they feel that they could do better- then choose either the ACT or SAT I to prep for over the summer and give it one more shot. I hate to see too much time and money spent on test preparation at the expense of student’s schools work as that is much more important in gaining admissions! SAT II’s are one hour achievement test which are only required by the more selective schools. I advise students to sit for two of them, if they are applying to those colleges, in the areas of their greatest strength i.e. Biology or History etc.

Megan DorseySAT Prep & College AdvisorCollege Prep LLC

No Standard Answer for Standardized Testing

Your test plan will be unique to you, your strengths, and where you’re likely applying. Most students take the PLAN or PSAT in 10th-11th grade. All juniors should take the ACT and SAT at least once. These tests are different; one is not easier than the other. Once you determine which test format best matches your strengths, retake it to improve your scores. Because colleges and universities will use students’ best scores, most opt to take tests two or three times. In addition, students applying to some highly selective schools may be required to take SAT Subject Tests, and international students may need additional tests such as the TOEFL.

Rana SlosbergOwnerSlosberg College Solutions LLC

SAT I and ACT

I recommend that students take an SAT I practice test and an ACT practice test and see which one they do better on. They should focus on preparing for the test they did better on. Typically, I suggest students take the test twice: once in the middle of the junior year and once in the end of the junior year. In addition, students should check if the schools they are applying to require that they take any SAT II Subject tests.

Jenn CohenOwnerJenn Cohen Tutoring

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

The answers to these questions vary radically from student to student. Anyone who tells you there’s one right answer for everyone isn’t as knowledgeable about the tests as they should be! There’s no way to thoroughly respond in this format, so I’ll just provide a few guidelines. All students should take a full-length practice SAT and ACT before deciding which one to pursue. The PSAT or PLAN is not an acceptable guide since these tests are truncated versions of the real thing. Having the full experience of each test (in all it’s exhausting, mind-tangling glory) is essential for making an informed decision. Other factors may include available test accommodations for students with disabilities, preferred test dates/centers and access to prep materials. Most students develop a clear preference for one or the other, so when you know which one is for you, stick with it! Many students think they need to take both tests, but I disagree. The SAT and ACT are very different animals and it can be confusing to prep for both, not to mention a giant time-suck in your already busy schedule! As for when to take your test of choice, the only guideline is to allow ample time to retake it at least once before applications are due in the fall/winter of your senior year. In general, you should take it for the first time no later than May/June of your junior year. But if you prefer to get it out of the way earlier, please do! If you have plenty of time to devote to preparation the summer after your sophomore year, do it. Then take the test in the fall while the information is still fresh. Be sure to also plan for AP exams and SAT subject tests if they’re on your agenda. The answer to the last question is a little easier to answer. If you’re applying to a selective school, many (most?) require you to submit all of your test scores from the SAT or ACT. A general guideline is to take the test no more than three times, unless you have a very good reason for doing so. More attempts implies that you’re hoping luck is going to shine down on you rather than putting in sufficient preparation before test day. Each time you take the test should be “for real,” with you putting in your best effort. Don’t use a real exam for practice…that’s what prep materials are for! Hope that gets you thinking about a plan. I recommend talking to a test prep pro to discuss your specific needs, especially if you’re intending to apply for testing accommodations. Good luck!

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

After the PSAT, which I would take as sophomore for practice and as a Junior for the National Merit competition, either the SAT or ACT if not both. Most of my students decide which test they are going to focus on and take it twice. Unless you prepare in a drastically different way, taking the test a third time usually does not result in a higher scores. Also, the most selective schools require two or three SAT subject tests, and as many AP tests as possible.

Patricia AviezerPresidentInside Track To College, Inc.

You Took the SAT and ACT, how many times?

SAT and ACT, six little letters that can cost families of college-bound students thousands of dollars in test preparation and test costs. How do you plan and prepare for standardized testing and which test is right for you. Here are some suggestions: 1. Start to get familiar with these tests early on, don’t wait until your junior year. Sign up for College Board’s word of the Day, take a PSAT in Sophomore and Junior year, take a PLAN/mini ACT to get familiar with both tests. 2. Don’t practice publically until you’re ready-Some school districts apply all test results to transcripts! There are so many “free resources” for an early introduction to these tests. ACT offers a whole test online, “INeedAPencil.com” lets you practice SAT for free and Number2.com covers both the SAT and the ACT. Your guidance department has “free” booklets for both tests with the answers in the back so you can calculate your scores. 3. And about “How Many Times Should You Take The Test?” Hopefully, with enough advanced “silent” preparation–once will DO! But realistically, students will usually take the test more than once. Although most colleges across the country will “superscore” the SAT, fewer offer this option for ACT. Superscoring is when colleges will split your scores from other test dates to give you the “best” score. You need to check your college’s website, however, for their policy on multiple testing to make sure they don’t average after 3 tests or only take your top scores from one test. 4. Don’t PIN your acceptance into college on SAT or ACT scores-remember, academics and the quality of the courses you’re taking is always number 1 on the priority list for getting into college. Put you’re energy where it counts most and don’t hang your acceptance into college on a SAT or ACT test score!

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Which/When/How

Each school will let you know if a test is required and what one. Often the ACT and SAT are equally accepted. Tests need to be taken in time for scores to arrive by the application deadline. If you are not satisfied with your score you are welcome to retake the test. Please don’t waste your time and money retaking the test without doing a better job preparing yourself. Also, taking the test more than 3 times is probably not going to result in a significant improvement in your score.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Which/When/How

Each school will let you know if a test is required and what one. Often the ACT and SAT are equally accepted. Tests need to be taken in time for scores to arrive by the application deadline. If you are not satisfied with your score you are welcome to retake the test. Please don’t waste your time and money retaking the test without doing a better job preparing yourself. Also, taking the test more than 3 times is probably not going to result in a significant improvement in your score.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Which Standardized Test? What Does Youir School Want?

While few things in the application process are more nerve wracking than standardized tests, with more and more schools reducing their reliance on them, an applicant can now navigate the path to college without overdoing it on the test sittings. While the SAT is arguably a bit more about basic intelligence, the SAT II’s and the ACT reflect better how effectively a student learns so they may better showcase some students’ strengths. Utimately, it is important to be sure you know what the schools need since the requirements vary widely. Then it is probably a good idea to talk with a teacher or your counselor to help assess your profile and see which approach best highlights your strenghts

Kimberly ParsonsCounselorHerbert Hoover High School

SAT or ACT??

Which standardized test is right for you? When should you take it? How many times? These are all important questions for you when deciding on colleges. As far as which test is best, there is no right or wrong answer for that. Research your college choices and figure out what tests your colleges will accept and the score they will take. Many schools also offer scholarships base on standarized test scores and GPA, so this is also something to consider when deciding what the best score is for you. Start taking the SAT or ACT as early as you can. I have several students who try taking them their sophomore year, just to get an idea of what they are like, and what they need to work on to improve their score. I would highly suggest taking them at some point during your Junior year of high school, again so you have an idea of scores, if you need to improve your scores for acceptance or for scholarships that are out there. The longer you wait, the more pressure and stress you have. If you begin early, try taking both the SAT and ACT, to see which test feel more comfortable with. Also, make sure you ask your high school counselor about fee waivers for paying for the tests, there are options out there for you, if you feel like you cannot afford the test.

Jill KaratkewiczCounselorEast Hampton High School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

There is no single answer that will fit all students. Traditionally, the standardized test “process” begins in sophomore year when students can take the PSAT (practice for the SAT) and/or the PLAN (practice for the ACT). The PSAT can be taken once more during the fall of junior year. Following this, most students make a plan to take one or both tests during the second semester of their junior year. If the student has had the opportunity to take both the PSAT and PLAN, they could use their scores and experiences from these tests to help determine which regular standardized test is best for them. If they have only taken one (or none), it would be my advice to take both the ACT and SAT at some point prior to the end of the student’s junior year (e.g. April ACT, May or June SAT). By doing so, the student can evaluate which test resulted in a more favorable score and make plans to retake a test in the fall of senior year, if necessary. Most students take the SAT and/or ACT two times. Studies show that taking three or more tests does not typically result in a significant increase in scores. Any student looking to apply to a highly selective college will also want to be mindful that some colleges will require them to take 2-3 SAT Subject Tests as part of their admission process. Subject Tests can not be taken on the same day as the regular SAT Reasoning Test.

Jill KaratkewiczCounselorEast Hampton High School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

There is no single answer that will fit all students. Traditionally, the standardized test “process” begins in sophomore year when students can take the PSAT (practice for the SAT) and/or the PLAN (practice for the ACT). The PSAT can be taken once more during the fall of junior year. Following this, most students make a plan to take one or both tests during the second semester of their junior year. If the student has had the opportunity to take both the PSAT and PLAN, they could use their scores and experiences from these tests to help determine which regular standardized test is best for them. If they have only taken one (or none), it would be my advice to take both the ACT and SAT at some point prior to the end of the student’s junior year (e.g. April ACT, May or June SAT). By doing so, the student can evaluate which test resulted in a more favorable score and make plans to retake a test in the fall of senior year, if necessary. Most students take the SAT and/or ACT two times. Studies show that taking three or more tests does not typically result in a significant increase in scores. Any student looking to apply to a highly selective college will also want to be mindful that some colleges will require them to take 2-3 SAT Subject Tests as part of their admission process. Subject Tests can not be taken on the same day as the regular SAT Reasoning Test.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

SAT and ACT

most colleges accept SAT and ACT, but I personally believe most students prefer SAT instead of ACT. it is better if the student can test first and pick the right test to prep. no one should take it more than three times. if you allow yourself with enough time to take it test three times, the best time frame is over two years period.

Jolyn BrandOwner & CEOBrand College Consulting

The SAT vs the ACT

Some students perform better naturally on one test over the other. The only way to find out for sure it to take both. Start during your junior year so that you have time to prepare and study for the retakes. Most students will need to retake one of these tests at least once. The last chance to take them is usually fall of senior year.

Brian D. CrispFounder and PresidentCrisp Consulting + Coaching; Burton College Tours

What’s the Diff?

The ACT and SAT are widely accepted at many of the selective colleges across the United States. Although both are accepted, they are extremely different. Your strengths as a student will determine which test provides you with the greatest advantage while demonstrating your abilities to admission officers. What’s the Diff? The ACT and SAT have both different content and different scoring rubrics. Each test will require its own strategies. Some of the main differences to help you decide should be the following: She Blinded Me With Science. The ACT includes specific science content and the SAT does not. If you are not comfortable with science and working with scientific information, then the SAT may be a better choice. Write of Passage. The SAT essay is required and the essay is optional on the ACT. If writing is not a strong suit, the ACT may be an advantageous choice. Score Card. The SAT deducts 1/4 point for each incorrect answer (except the math grid-ins) and the ACT has no wrong answer penalty. Guess strategies will be different for each test. To understand if a certain test will provide a particular advantage you should take a practice test for each. Many test preparation companies have assessments that will help you better understand which test is better for your admission goals. Regardless of the ACT, SAT or both, you will need preparation specific to that test.

Erica WhiteCollege & Career CounselorMiddletown High School

SAT and ACT

I suggest that students take the SAT one time AND the ACT one time during their junior year. Which ever test the student did better on, I recommend taking that specific test a 2nd or 3rd time in order to improve scores. The SAT has 3 sections…reading, math, and writing. The ACT adds in science. When signing up for the ACT, it is important to register for the ACT with Writing. Some of the more selective schools require SAT subjects tests, I suggest students take these in May of their junior year, due to the fact that many students will be taking AP exams in similar subject areas around that time.

Marjorie ShaevitzAdmissions expert, author, speakerwww.adMISSION POSSIBLE.com

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

How to know whether SAT or ACT, when, and prep As an independent counselor who has been working with students for more than twenty years, my recommendation to students is to take practice SAT and ACT tests before they do anything. They can do this for free online with College Board or Princeton Review (or go to a local Princeton Review office). Once they get the results back from each of the tests, then they can decide which test, the ACT or SAT, fits them best. Colleges accept either test. After deciding which test to take, then it’s imperative for students to do some preparation. As I tell my students, would you play an important tennis game without practice or some coaching? Whether working with a test tutor, online prep with the likes of mymaxscore.com or on their own, students who prepare do better than students who don’t. The time to take a test is when you are best prepared. Finally, the number of times to take a test depends on each student’s circumstances. In general, two or three times is enough; but again it depends on whether the student is fully ready to take the test and do his/her best. Sometimes circumstances, such as a flat tire on the way to the test site or being sick, will dictate whether a test should be taken again. Students should do what makes sense for them.

Jessica BrondoFounder and CEOThe Edge in College Prep

Create an individual strategy

Each student learns (and tests) differently so there is no cookie cutter recommendation for all students, but here are some good suggestions for everyone: 1. Take the PSAT in 10th grade. This will really give you an idea of what the SAT will be like the following year (NO ONE will see your grade so it is purely for practice). 2. If you happen to be in an advanced level class in school, you should look to take the SAT II exam for that particular subject in either May (if you take AP) or June (if you are not in an AP class) while the material is fresh. 3. Take a practice ACT (if available) or register to take the actual ACT in September of your junior year. 4. Take the PSAT again in October of your junior year 5. Your PSAT scores will come out in December. At that point compare your PSAT score with your ACT score and see if one is drastically higher than the other. If one of them is, you should definitely opt to focus on that one. If not, you can take both. 6. You should opt to take the SAT or ACT at least twice, if not three times before applying to college. Target SAT test dates should be March, May, October (of senior year) or January, May, October (of senior year) for international students who don’t have a March test. Target ACT dates should be April, June, September (of senior year). 7. Plan to take more SAT IIs in June of your junior year (or May and then take your SAT in June). WHICH ONES? The SAT was designed as an aptitude test—it tests your reasoning and verbal abilities, not what you’ve learned in school. In fact, the SAT was supposed to be a test that one could not study for (though this is hardly the case today). On the other hand, the ACT, is an achievement test, meant to test what you have learned in school. However, this distinction between “aptitude” and “achievement” is dubious. There’s concrete evidence showing that you can study for the SAT, and as the tests have evolved, they have come to look more and more like each other. HOW MANY TIMES? There is no set number of times that a student should take the SAT; however, most students will take the test at least twice. Some students choose to take the test three times, if they have been working hard to prepare and are confident that their scores will increase. It is not recommended that a student take the test more than three times, and it is recommended to only take the SAT subsequent times after doing some form of preparation, since you definitely do not want colleges to see a lower score on the second test. Hope this helps!

Eric Beers, Ph.D.College and Career CounselorAir Academy High School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

As a sophomore, you can most likely take the PSAT in the fall (with the juniors). If this is not available, sign up and take the PLAN test (pre-ACT). This should be widely available in your area. As a junior, for sure take the PSAT in October. This is the only test that qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. A high score here, with a corresponding high score on the SAT, can result in a lot of scholarship money for you! Plan on taking the ACT and SAT in the spring of your junior year. Almost all 4000 college or universities will take either score. So try both, and they will use which ever one you score higher on. If you are disappointed in your score, you can always retake either test. Many colleges let you super score, which is creating your highest SAT or ACT. So trying multiple sittings of the test can greatly boost your score.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Start your planning early so you’ll be able to satisfy each school’s requirements. If your scores keep increasing, keep taking tests. Remember this: Plan your work, work your plan. No one plans to fail, but too many fail to plan.

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Today, colleges and universities accept either the SAT or ACT on an equal basis. This is different from years ago when many colleges accepted either one or the other (you may need to help your parents understand that things are different from when they went to school). You should get experience taking both tests to help you better understand which one may be the stronger test for you, then focus on that test. Generally speaking, you should plan to take either the SAT or ACT two to three times. That will give you the best shot at achieving your best score across sections. Taking it more than that will typically not lead to any measurable increase. Don’t forget the Subject Tests for schools that require them. These are best taken shortly after completing the course. For example, if you are taking AP Chemistry and think you might want to take the Chemistry ST, do it in May or June of that year when you have completed the material, and are also in the mode of studying for the AP test and/or final. Sometimes, a college may not require the Subject Test, but it may be a good idea to submit a strong score if it may help you. Mike Kent CollegeMax Counseling [email protected]

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Today, colleges and universities accept either the SAT or ACT on an equal basis. This is different from years ago when many colleges accepted either one or the other (you may need to help your parents understand that things are different from when they went to school). You should get experience taking both tests to help you better understand which one may be the stronger test for you, then focus on that test. Generally speaking, you should plan to take either the SAT or ACT two to three times. That will give you the best shot at achieving your best score across sections. Taking it more than that will typically not lead to any measurable increase. Don’t forget the Subject Tests for schools that require them. These are best taken shortly after completing the course. For example, if you are taking AP Chemistry and think you might want to take the Chemistry ST, do it in May or June of that year when you have completed the material, and are also in the mode of studying for the AP test and/or final. Sometimes, a college may not require the Subject Test, but it may be a good idea to submit a strong score if it may help you. Mike Kent CollegeMax Counseling (818) 519-5279

Heather TomaselloWriting CoachThe EssayLady, LLC

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are designed to allow college admissions officers to judge all students by a common measurement. Scores on these tests can compensate for differences in high school curriculum, grade inflation, and quality of teaching. Many students ask me, “Is it a good idea to take both the SAT and ACT at least once?” I’d say, “yes- depending on your particular strengths and weaknesses, you may perform much better on one test than the other.” Try taking free practice tests online or through your school. Think about how you felt about taking each test. Did you understand the format? Was one more stressful than the other for you? Many students find they do much better on one than the other- use this to your advantage by taking the tests early (junior year) so you can re-take if necessary.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

The primary college admissions standardized tests are the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT. Some institutions ask for one, some ask for the other, and some will accept either or both. Also keep in mind that some of the schools you are considering may require one or more SAT Subject Tests, which are focused on particular areas. Some institutions will also ask for the ACT Writing Test. These requirements will be indicated on the institutional websites. The SAT Reasoning Test has a writing component at each testing. The ACT Writing Test, however, is optional, but it is administered in conjunction with the regular ACT, adding an additional half hour to the testing time. You don’t have to take the ACT Writing Test unless the institutions to which you are applying ask for those results. The Writing Test is offered at all ACT sittings in the U.S., but not internationally. If you are at an international location and need the ACT Writing Test scores, check the ACT test schedules to determine when those Writing Test sessions will be offered. Students needing SAT Subject Test scores may take up to three Subject Tests at any one sitting. The SAT Subject Tests take about an hour each and must be scheduled on a separate day from the SAT Reasoning Test. (To clarify, the SAT Reasoning Tests and the SAT Subject Tests will be offered at a test site on the same day, but a student registered for the SAT Reasoning Test cannot also take any Subject Tests on that day, as they take place at the same time.) Students tend to feel that they do better on one test than the other because of the way the tests are structured, but when comparing scores of students who took both the SAT and the ACT, I found that the results were essentially equivalent. I recommend that students take each of the tests at least once, however, in order to have at least one score from each test available for their applications. The SAT Subject Tests may also be taken more than once. Since it costs money to register for these tests, it makes sense to plan carefully, but I have found that students do tend to achieve better scores when they take the tests at least twice. The improvement undoubtedly has partially to do with becoming familiar with the test administration procedures and learning to cope with the stress of the timed testing situation, developing a strategy for effective pacing. Improvement is also likely if the student recognizes his/her areas of difficulty and institutes a plan for more focused study in those areas before the second testing. Some students plan to take the tests three times each, but this can become counter-productive (overkill, maybe). It really depends on the student, his/her goals, his/her attitude toward the testing, and what kind of preparation is being done. Assuming that a student has decided to take both tests and plans to take each one twice, I would suggest that he/she take one SAT and one ACT toward the end of the 11th grade. At that time, he/she will have finished or almost finished that year’s high school studies so that the possibility of doing well on the tests will be greater. Perhaps the student has already been doing some kind of standardized test preparation, but the results on the tests taken at the end of the 11th grade will give him/her a chance to analyze where his/her strengths and weaknesses lie, so that more focused test preparation can be done over the summer. As mentioned above, taking the test at this time will also familiarize the student with testing procedures, thus potentially making the second testing a smoother experience. The student should then plan to take both of the tests again in the fall of the 12th grade. Registering for the earliest fall tests is probably a good idea. If the student is dissatisfied with those test results, there is always the possibility of retaking the tests at a later fall testing in time to meet college application deadlines; if the results meet the student’s expectations, he/she can relax and won’t have to be concerned about that aspect of the application any longer. Students requiring SAT Subject Test scores could plan to take those tests at one of the later fall testings. Another viewpoint with regard to the SAT Subject Tests is that the tests would best be scheduled at the end of the courses of study in the relevant subjects. For instance, if a student were taking a certain course in the 11th grade and planned to take an SAT Subject Test in that area, he/she might want to take the Subject Test at the end of the 11th Grade, when the subject matter was fresh in his/her mind. Students should also plan to take the PSAT, which is administered in the fall of each year. This test will usually be accessible to students throughout their high school years but is particularly important in the 11th grade. The test is officially designated as PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), and it is the 11th-grade test sitting, not any of the others, which could qualify students who are U.S. citizens for the National Merit Scholarship program. The PSAT is structured similarly to the SAT, and the feedback and analysis students receive afterwards provides a good basis for further preparation for the SAT. It also gives students a feel for the timed testing environment, but in a more limited way. The PSAT is not required for college admission and the results are not submitted to colleges/universities (except in the case of National Merit Scholarships and related recognitions), so it is a good way of testing the waters. International students, depending on the language in which they receive their high school education, may be required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (Internationl English Language Testing System), both of which assist the universities to which you are applying in determining your English-language proficiency. In some cases, the results could affect your admission; in others, if your results were weak, the university would place you in an English-language development program upon entry into the school before transitioning you into the regular academic rigor of the institution. Both the TOEFL and the IELTS may be taken more than once. In summary, the following could be an effective standardized testing plan. Additional tests could, of course, be scheduled at the student’s discretion. – Fall of 11th Grade – PSAT – Spring or Late 11th Grade – SAT Reasoning/1st sitting ACT/1st sitting SAT Subject Tests, if required – Fall of 12th Grade – SAT Reasoning/2nd sitting ACT/2nd sitting SAT Subject Tests, if required Hope this helps you establish an effective Plan of Action!

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Today, colleges and universities accept either the SAT or ACT on an equal basis. This is different from years ago when many colleges accepted either one or the other (you may need to help your parents understand that things are different from when they went to school). You should get experience taking both tests to help you better understand which one may be the stronger test for you, then focus on that test. Generally speaking, you should plan to take either the SAT or ACT two to three times. That will give you the best shot at achieving your best score across sections. Taking it more than that will typically not lead to any measurable increase. Don’t forget the Subject Tests for schools that require them. These are best taken shortly after completing the course. For example, if you are taking AP Chemistry and think you might want to take the Chemistry ST, do it in May or June of that year when you have completed the material, and are also in the mode of studying for the AP test and/or final. Sometimes, a college may not require the Subject Test, but it may be a good idea to submit a strong score if it may help you.

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Today, colleges and universities accept either the SAT or ACT on an equal basis. This is different from years ago when many colleges accepted either one or the other (you may need to help your parents understand that things are different from when they went to school). You should get experience taking both tests to help you better understand which one may be the stronger test for you, then focus on that test. Generally speaking, you should plan to take either the SAT or ACT two to three times. That will give you the best shot at achieving your best score across sections. Taking it more than that will typically not lead to any measurable increase. Don’t forget the Subject Tests for schools that require them. These are best taken shortly after completing the course. For example, if you are taking AP Chemistry and think you might want to take the Chemistry ST, do it in May or June of that year when you have completed the material, and are also in the mode of studying for the AP test and/or final. Sometimes, a college may not require the Subject Test, but it may be a good idea to submit a strong score if it may help you.

Ronald Harris

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Both SAT and ACT. Take it until you meet the requirements of the university that you are applying to.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I recommend that students take both the SAT and ACT. As a freshman and sophomore see if you can take the PSAT or Plan tests to prepare for the actual exams. In the spring of your junior year sign-up for the SAT and ACT and compare your scores. This way you can create a preparation plan over the summer based on your performance. Typically the last time you can take the test is in December of your senior year, but check with individual colleges for deadlines. Realistically I would not recommend taking the test more than two times. If you can, schedule your tests for May of you Junior year so you can review your scores with your counselor and have enough time to prepare for the summer. If you wait until June, your counselor may be long gone before your scores are received.

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Today, colleges and universities accept either the SAT or ACT on an equal basis. This is different from years ago when many colleges accepted either one or the other (you may need to help your parents understand that things are different from when they went to school). You should get experience taking both tests to help you better understand which one may be the stronger test for you, then focus on that test. Generally speaking, you should plan to take either the SAT or ACT two to three times. That will give you the best shot at achieving your best score across sections. Taking it more than that will typically not lead to any measurable increase. Don’t forget the Subject Tests for schools that require them. These are best taken shortly after completing the course. For example, if you are taking AP Chemistry and think you might want to take the Chemistry ST, do it in May or June of that year when you have completed the material, and are also in the mode of studying for the AP test and/or final. Sometimes, a college may not require the Subject Test, but it may be a good idea to submit a strong score if it may help you.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

The primary college admissions standardized tests are the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT. Some institutions ask for one, some ask for the other, and some will accept either or both. Also keep in mind that some of the schools you are considering may require one or more SAT Subject Tests, which are focused on particular areas. Some institutions will also ask for the ACT Writing Test. These requirements will be indicated on the institutional websites. The SAT Reasoning Test has a writing component at each testing. The ACT Writing Test, however, is optional, but it is administered in conjunction with the regular ACT, adding an additional half hour to the testing time. You don’t have to take the ACT Writing Test unless the institutions to which you are applying ask for those results. The Writing Test is offered at all ACT sittings in the U.S., but not internationally. If you are at an international location and need the ACT Writing Test scores, check the ACT test schedules to determine when those Writing Test sessions will be offered. Students needing SAT Subject Test scores may take up to three Subject Tests at any one sitting. The SAT Subject Tests take about an hour each and must be scheduled on a separate day from the SAT Reasoning Test. (To clarify, the SAT Reasoning Tests and the SAT Subject Tests will be offered at a test site on the same day, but a student registered for the SAT Reasoning Test cannot also take any Subject Tests on that day, as they take place at the same time.) Students tend to feel that they do better on one test than the other because of the way the tests are structured, but when comparing scores of students who took both the SAT and the ACT, I found that the results were essentially equivalent. I recommend that students take each of the tests at least once, however, in order to have at least one score from each test available for their applications. The SAT Subject Tests may also be taken more than once. Since it costs money to register for these tests, it makes sense to plan carefully, but I have found that students do tend to achieve better scores when they take the tests at least twice. The improvement undoubtedly has partially to do with becoming familiar with the test administration procedures and learning to cope with the stress of the timed testing situation, developing a strategy for effective pacing. Improvement is also likely if the student recognizes his/her areas of difficulty and institutes a plan for more focused study in those areas before the second testing. Some students plan to take the tests three times each, but this can become counter-productive (overkill, maybe). It really depends on the student, his/her goals, his/her attitude toward the testing, and what kind of preparation is being done. Assuming that a student has decided to take both tests and plans to take each one twice, I would suggest that he/she take one SAT and one ACT toward the end of the 11th grade. At that time, he/she will have finished or almost finished that year’s high school studies so that the possibility of doing well on the tests will be greater. Perhaps the student has already been doing some kind of standardized test preparation, but the results on the tests taken at the end of the 11th grade will give him/her a chance to analyze where his/her strengths and weaknesses lie, so that more focused test preparation can be done over the summer. As mentioned above, taking the test at this time will also familiarize the student with testing procedures, thus potentially making the second testing a smoother experience. The student should then plan to take both of the tests again in the fall of the 12th grade. Registering for the earliest fall tests is probably a good idea. If the student is dissatisfied with those test results, there is always the possibility of retaking the tests at a later fall testing in time to meet college application deadlines; if the results meet the student’s expectations, he/she can relax and won’t have to be concerned about that aspect of the application any longer. Students requiring SAT Subject Test scores could plan to take those tests at one of the later fall testings. Another viewpoint with regard to the SAT Subject Tests is that the tests would best be scheduled at the end of the courses of study in the relevant subjects. For instance, if a student were taking a certain course in the 11th grade and planned to take an SAT Subject Test in that area, he/she might want to take the Subject Test at the end of the 11th Grade, when the subject matter was fresh in his/her mind. Students should also plan to take the PSAT, which is administered in the fall of each year. This test will usually be accessible to students throughout their high school years but is particularly important in the 11th grade. The test is officially designated as PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), and it is the 11th-grade test sitting, not any of the others, which could qualify students who are U.S. citizens for the National Merit Scholarship program. The PSAT is structured similarly to the SAT, and the feedback and analysis students receive afterwards provides a good basis for further preparation for the SAT. It also gives students a feel for the timed testing environment, but in a more limited way. The PSAT is not required for college admission and the results are not submitted to colleges/universities (except in the case of National Merit Scholarships and related recognitions), so it is a good way of testing the waters. International students, depending on the language in which they receive their high school education, may be required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS, both of which assist the universities to which you are applying in determining your English-language proficiency. In some cases, the results could affect your admission, in others, if your results were weak, the university would place you in an English-language development program upon entry into the school before transitioning you into the regular academic rigor of the institution. Both the TOEFL and the IELTS can be taken more than once. In summary, the following could be an effective standardized testing plan. Additional tests could, of course, be scheduled at the student’s discretion. – Fall of 11th Grade – PSAT – Spring or Late 11th Grade – SAT Reasoning/1st sitting ACT/1st sitting SAT Subject Tests, if required – Fall of 12th Grade – SAT Reasoning/2nd sitting ACT/2nd sitting SAT Subject Tests, if required Hope this helps you establish an effective Plan of Action!

Alan Duesterhaus

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

The big two standardized exams for undergraduate admission are the SAT and ACT. You should take at least one of these in your Junior year. If you are able it would be good to take both. Regardless of your scores (unless you get a perfect score!) in your Junior year you will want to take one or both exams no later than the Fall of your Senior year. Most colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. If you have a good sense of the institutions you wish to attend it will be worthwhile to see what percentage of students submit which test. If 75% of the students submit the ACT then you probably will want to do so as well since the college will be more familiar with this test. Although, most colleges will calculate what your SAT score would equate to on the ACT if they prefer to use one exam over the other. If you are not interested or able to take a test prep course you probably will not want to take any standardized test more than three times. Your score will not change much after that unless there is something new (e.g. completing a test prep course). Best wishes for your college choice!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Trevor CreedenDirector of College and Career CounselingDelaware County Christian School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

My advice is that you take both the SAT and ACT once to see which test you do better on. You may hear that a certain type of student does better on one that the other but these circumstances are not normally consistent across the board. There are ways to take practice tests like the PSAT or ACT practice tests to get an idea of whether you score better on one test than the other. Once you determine which test you do better on, I recommend that you take that test twice before the end of the junior year and then once at the beginning of your senior year. You may determine two times is enough and that is fine, but I see more scores come up when seniors take it in October of their senior year than at any other time. The SAT is more critical thinking and the ACT is more subject based. The ACT has a science section on it that is more science terms and interpreting charts than anything. The ACT math has some Trigonometry on it. The ACT is also a bit shorter and doesn’t take any points off for a wrong answer which helps some students with test anxiety.

Trevor CreedenDirector of College and Career CounselingDelaware County Christian School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

My advice is that you take both the SAT and ACT once to see which test you do better on. You may hear that a certain type of student does better on one that the other but these circumstances are not normally consistent across the board. There are ways to take practice tests like the PSAT or ACT practice tests to get an idea of whether you score better on one test than the other. Once you determine which test you do better on, I recommend that you take that test twice before the end of the junior year and then once at the beginning of your senior year. You may determine two times is enough and that is fine, but I see more scores come up when seniors take it in October of their senior year than at any other time. The SAT is more critical thinking and the ACT is more subject based. The ACT has a science section on it that is more science terms and interpreting charts than anything. The ACT math has some Trigonometry on it. The ACT is also a bit shorter and doesn’t take any points off for a wrong answer which helps some students with test anxiety.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Sophomores can begin by taking the PSAT. This exam may be offered within the high school’s guidance counseling department. Juniors should take the PSAT and the SAT and/or ACT. The PSAT is a practice test to help students prepare for the actual SAT. The student will receive scores and will see where they are ranked in comparison to other students throughout the United States. Students taking the PSAT will get back their test booklet and will be able to use it as a study guide. This is a nice option and an advantage for students who take the PSAT. Students taking the SAT during their junior year will automatically be entered in a running for certain scholarships.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Sophomores can begin by taking the PSAT. This exam may be offered within the high school’s guidance counseling department. Juniors should take the PSAT and the SAT and/or ACT. The PSAT is a practice test to help students prepare for the actual SAT. The student will receive scores and will see where they are ranked in comparison to other students throughout the United States. Students taking the PSAT will get back their test booklet and will be able to use it as a study guide. This is a nice option and an advantage for students who take the PSAT. Students taking the SAT during their junior year will automatically be entered in a running for certain scholarships. Students shouldn’t be too discouraged if they receive less than perfect scores on the SAT/ACT. They should understand that they are able to take these exams over again. If a student receives a lower score the second time around, it won’t replace the higher score. There may be study groups within your community to help students prepare for these particular exams.

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACY and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I believe you should take both the ACT and the SAT at least once. Choose the one you do best on and spend time preparing for another test date. I agree with the Education Conservancy here, you really don’t need to take a test more than twice. Take the testing seriously, but not too seriously. It isn’t the end of the world if you are not a great test taker. Check out colleges that are test optional!

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

ACT versus SAT? It depends of what type of tester you are. My motto is do many practice tests and take either test a maximum of three times. For the subject tests, a student will need 2-3 depending on where he or she will apply.

Carita Del ValleFounderAcademic Decisions

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Unfortunately the best answer is it depends! Each student’s desires for higher education is different and once this is determined then we can decide the strategy for standardized testing. Usually one time for each is important then we use the data and move forward.

Francine SchwartzFounder/ PresidentPathfinder Counseling LLC

ACT , SAT, SAT Subject Tests – Which to take?

Some students do better on the SAT and some on the ACT. Others school about the same. Each test has pros and cons. The ACT may seem more like tests you are used to taking in high school and you are not penalized from guessing. The SAT works well for students who are good test takers and you do lose points for guessing. I suggest taking both at least once and then decide which to retake. Generally scores tend to go up on a second try. Beyond three times is overkill. Most schools super score tests, that is they will combine your best scores from various tests, sometimes between tests to come up with your best score. Francine Schwartz, M.A., LPC, NCC Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Francine SchwartzFounder/ PresidentPathfinder Counseling LLC

ACT , SAT, SAT Subject Tests – Which to take?

Some students do better on the SAT and some on the ACT. Others school about the same. Each test has pros and cons. The ACT may seem more like tests you are used to taking in high school and you are not penalized from guessing. The SAT works well for students who are good test takers and you do lose points for guessing. I suggest taking both at least once and then decide which to retake. Generally scores tend to go up on a second try. Beyond three times is overkill. Most schools super score tests, that is they will combine your best scores from various tests, sometimes between tests to come up with your best score.

Brooke SeifertAcademic CounselorFountain Hills High School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I usually recommend that my students take both the SAT and ACT. How well a student does on each test depends on where their knowledge base originates from. The SAT’s focus more on reasoning skills, whereas the ACT’s measure your knowledge of curriculum. This being said, it is more likely to find a student who doesn’t do very well in school who aces the SAT’s rather than the ACT’s. Another factor that contributes to how well a student does on each test is how the tests are scored. The SAT’s deduct a 1/4 point for wrong answers; the ACT’s do not deduct points for wrong answers, so students are encouraged to guess as time runs out. Because of this, in my experience, students tend to do better on the ACT’s than SAT’s. There is an ACT-SAT concordance chart that tells you how your ACT score translates into an SAT score and vice versa. For the most part, if student took both tests, their ACT scores translate into a higher SAT score than they actually received. Student’s should always verify which test is acceptable with the colleges that they are applying to. There used to be a stigma against the ACT, but it is now being accepted more and more frequently. In fact, I have not come across a college or university that does not accept it in my time as a high school counselor. Students should always take standardized test for the first time their Junior year, at the latest in the spring and again the fall of their Senior year. Most colleges and universities have a deadline concerning when scores can still be accepted. I should also mention that, if you absolutely only want to take either the SAT or the ACT and not both, there are ways to decide which one will benefit you more. The easiest way is to take predictive tests earlier in high school. The PSAT and PLAN are usually available to sophomores. The PSAT is a precursor to the SAT and the PLAN to the ACT. The PSAT and PLAN are much more inexpensive than the SAT and ACT (usually under $20). If you take both of these tests and do better on one than the other, that should steer you towards what college admission test to take. If you are having trouble paying for any of the tests I’ve mentioned, contact your high school counselor. Fee waivers are available. Good luck! 🙂

Brooke SeifertAcademic CounselorFountain Hills High School

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

I usually recommend that my students take both the SAT and ACT. How well a student does on each test depends on where their knowledge base originates from. The SAT’s focus more on reasoning skills, whereas the ACT’s measure your knowledge of curriculum. This being said, it is more likely to find a student who doesn’t do very well in school who aces the SAT’s rather than the ACT’s. Another factor that contributes to how well a student does on each test is how the tests are scored. The SAT’s deduct a 1/4 point for wrong answers; the ACT’s do not deduct points for wrong answers, so students are encouraged to guess as time runs out. Because of this, in my experience, students tend to do better on the ACT’s than SAT’s. There is an ACT-SAT concordance chart that tells you how your ACT score translates into an SAT score and vice versa. For the most part, if student took both tests, their ACT scores translate into a higher SAT score than they actually received. Student’s should always verify which test is acceptable with the colleges that they are applying to. There used to be a stigma against the ACT, but it is now being accepted more and more frequently. In fact, I have not come across a college or university that does not accept it in my time as a high school counselor. Students should always take standardized test for the first time their Junior year, at the latest in the spring and again the fall of their Senior year. Colleges typically accept your highest scores, not necessarily your most recent. Most colleges and universities also have a deadline concerning when scores can still be accepted. Double check with them before you register for your test. I should also mention that, if you absolutely only want to take either the SAT or the ACT and not both, there are ways to decide which one will benefit you more. The easiest way is to take predictive tests earlier in high school. The PSAT and PLAN are usually available to sophomores. The PSAT is a precursor to the SAT and the PLAN to the ACT. The PSAT and PLAN are much more inexpensive than the SAT and ACT (usually under $20). If you take both of these tests and do better on one than the other, that should steer you towards what college admission test to take. If you are having trouble paying for any of the tests I’ve mentioned, contact your high school counselor. Fee waivers are available. Good luck! 🙂

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

Almost all schools accept either the SAT or ACT. Some students find that one test works better for them than the other. If possible, take the PSAT and PLAN tests your sophomore year to get a sense of which test you’re more comfortable with. If you can’t do a “pre-test”, visit the SAT and ACT online to try some sample questions and get a sense of how the tests are organized. Ideally, you should take the SAT or ACT in the spring of junior year, leaving time to re-take the test in late spring of junior year or early fall of senior year if necessary. Re-taking the test can be helpful, but taking it more than two or three times rarely results in improved scores and may even backfire and result in lower scores overall. If you’re applying to colleges that require the SAT Subject Tests, it’s helpful to take tests in subjects you’re currently studying as close to the end of junior year as possible. The information will still be fresh in your mind and you won’t have to go back and bone up on skills and concepts after having been out of class for several months. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t take the SAT reasoning test on the same day that you take the subject tests. Be sure to construct your testing timeline carefully so that you have adequate time to complete all tests, especially if you are planning to apply early decision or early action, as the colleges will expect all testing to be completed by the November administration.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

ACT and SAT no more than three times. Statistically, nothing happens after the third time that you take an exam. By the third time, you should have already studied or prepped for the exam instead of taking it on the fly.

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