Should I take SAT or ACT?

Now that the redesigned SAT has been launched, students and parents are often undecided when choosing between the two tests. The new SAT has actually become more similar to the ACT. Both tests cover almost the same math topics, although ACT often has a broader scope than SAT, and ACT allows the use of calculators throughout the exam where as SAT limits calculator use to only some questions. Both reading and writing tests are passage based, with no stand-alone sentences, but the SAT has more passages and questions than the ACT. The essays are both optional, but they are very different in style: SAT is an analytical essay while ACT is a persuasive essay. The most notable difference is the science section in the ACT, although SAT tries to include a few data interpretation questions in the reading and writing tests. But above all, the most important distinction is the time allowed per question, with ACT being more time pressured than the SAT. Students who can read and think fast will be able to succeed in both tests with the right strategies and practice. Students who are always running out of time may be better off with the SAT.

The scoring system is also the same now that both tests do not penalize students for wrong answers. SAT has a maximum score of 1600, 800 for math and 800 for reading and writing combined. Thus math is 50% of the total score on the SAT while only 25% on the ACT. The maximum score for the ACT per section is 36, and the composite score is the average of the scores from the 4 sections. If a student is strong in math but weak in science and English, taking the SAT is definitely a better choice. A student who is strong in English and science but weak in math would likely get a better overall score on the ACT than the SAT. For other cases, it is recommended that students try both tests to determine the right one.

What kind of subjects should I take for SAT subject test?

Take subjects that are your strengths and related to your major. Usually students take at least 1 math subject test and another subject such as physics, history or languages.

When should I take the SAT subject tests?

Right after you completed those subjects in school so that the material is still fresh in your mind.

I am in 9th grade, is there anything I can do?

Yes, aim for high grades and take challenging courses. Start building up your vocabulary and read a lot of books. Get involved in some meaningful extracurricular activities that you can write about in your essays.

When should I take the SAT course?

2-3 months before the test. It is recommended that you take the test soon after you take the course. The SATs are not held every month so you need to plan your schedule carefully.

Can I take the SAT in 12th grade?

You can, but it is better not to wait till you are in 12th grade because you may miss the deadlines to submit your college applications. Furthermore, you will be busy researching colleges, writing essays and completing your applications.


Will a high SAT score get me into the school of my choice?

High SAT score does not guarantee you admission because colleges base their decisions on other factors like your GPA, essays, recommendation letters and extracurricular activities. High SAT score increases the likelihood that college admission officials will look at your application and consider you as a candidate.




When should I take the SAT?

The best time to take the SAT is when you are in 10th or 11th grade (SMA 1 or SMA 2) after you have learned Algebra and Geometry. Since you may need to retake the SAT, it is recommended that you take the SAT as early as possible so that you will have time to improve your score. Don’t wait till your senior year; you will be busy with college application and any subject tests (SAT II) or AP tests.


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