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

ACT/SAT Prep

Our counselors answered:

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

Lily Trayes
Founder and CEO Ivy League Placement

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

Here is my video response to the question.

Jane McClure
Partner McClure, Mailory & Baron Educational Counseling

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

Here is my video response to the question.

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

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

Here is my video response to the question.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College 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.

Marjorie Shaevitz
Admissions expert, author, speaker www.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.

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown 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.

Brian D. Crisp
Founder and President Crisp 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.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY 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 Brand
Owner & CEO Brand 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.

Rana Slosberg
Owner Slosberg 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.