There are two popular tests used to assess the preparedness of students entering college. These are the ACT and the SAT. ACT stands for American College Testing, although the acronym, ACT, has been the official name since 1996. The meaning behind SAT has changed a couple of times. It was originally the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The test was renamed SAT I: Reasoning Test in 1993 and in 2004 was named SAT Reasoning Test. Both tests are best known simply by their acronyms.
Both tests are used to determine the eligibility of students who are applying for entrance into colleges. The ACT generally covers the content of the learning that may have been covered during the pre-college school years. When taking the ACT, the student will try to remember the information that has been presented during the preceding years. The SAT is an aptitude test and will have a focus on problem-solving and critical thinking. While taking the SAT, the student will try to apply the information that was taught during the previous years of education.
Utilize a Variety of Study Resources
During the course of the school year, high school students should find that they have access to a variety of resources.
- Free materials are often provided to high school students. Guidance counselors are a great source for obtaining those materials and are also a great source for studying tips as well.
- Practice manuals are widely available to guide SAT studying. These manuals can be picked up at book stores and through online retailers. Students might be able to check out old versions through a local library. However, the newer the better.
- Today there are great possibilities for help through software programs. This software allows students to identify the areas of weakness that will require the most practice and can develop a plan for studying to target that weakness.
- Test preparation courses are another popular way to study. Through course attendance students will participate in weekly classes and at home study sessions. Test preparation courses are now possible to take through online courses. The online classes may cost less than the traditional courses.
Become Familiar with the Test Format
The SAT is split into three sections: mathematics, critical reading and writing. The sections are full of multiple choice questions with the inclusion of one essay question. The test typically takes about four hours. The sections will be scored individually on a scale of 200 to 800. Answers are scored simply based on correctness or incorrectness. A correct answer earns a positive score and a negative answer will result in the loss of a partial score. (As opposed to simply receiving no credit for an incorrect answer.)
Recognize the Need for Tutoring
The need for tutoring should be apparent before the time for testing comes around. It is important that students recognize when they are struggling academically and arrange for help before too much ground is lost. Some signs that tutoring would be beneficial include:
- Poor grades in spite of consistent efforts to improve grades
- Incomplete or poorly done assignments
- Declining interest in school activities
- A tendency to get into trouble at school
Parents, school counselors and students can be on the lookout for these signs of trouble.
Recognize that the best preparation takes years of effort.
Students who wait until just before taking the college entrance tests will find that they experience a lot of stress over taking the SAT and ACT. But students who recognize early on the importance of the tests can begin studying and preparing years in advance.