SAT & ACT Frequently Asked Questions
SAT and ACT FAQ
- Should I take the SAT or ACT?
- Check with the colleges you want to apply to and see if they have a preference.
If your college will accept either, take both tests. If possible, take both preliminary tests (PSAT and PLAN) your sophomore year or early in your junior year, if possible, to get an early feeling for both tests.
- Math, writing and critical reading
- Reasoning skills and problem-solving abilities
- Essay is required
- Deducts points for wrong answers
Math is 1/3 of your final score
- Science, Math, English and reading
- Focuses on what you've learned in high school
- Essay is optional
- No penalties for wrong answers
- Math is ¼ of your final score
- What scores are counted if I take the SAT more than once?
- If you have taken the SAT or ACT more than once, colleges generally account only the highest score for each section.
For example, say you took the SAT twice and there are your scores:
Critical Reading 535
Critical Reading 520
Total of all highest scores is 1625.
When you submit your scores, colleges will count the math score from January exam and the critical reading and writing scores from the October exam.
- What if I score low?
- You can take the tests more than once to try to improve your scores. Keep in mind that colleges will just look at the highest score in each section.
Should I take SAT Subject Tests?
Some colleges recommend or require one or more SAT Subject Tests as part of the application and use your scores to place you into the right courses, so always check with the colleges you’re interested in first.
SAT Subject Tests give you the opportunity to highlight your strengths in subject areas where you excel.
- How do I study for the tests?
- Many high schools offer prep classes or use of study guides – check with your counselor.
Many study guides are available. Before buying, check with your school counselor, school library and local library to see if they have copies you can borrow.
CollegeBoard.com and ACTstudent.org offer free online study guides, practice tests and registration for emailed questions of the day. More extensive study options may be purchased on the sites.
Prep courses are also available through private prep companies, including Sylvan Learning, Princeton Review and Kaplan Test Prep, but these charge a fee. Explore the free study help offered by the test administrators before considering choosing study aides.
- Do I have to pay for these tests?
- Yes, there is a registration fee for each test. You can pay by credit card, check or money order. You will not get your money back if you don’t take the tests for whatever reason.
You may be eligible to receive a waiver that would allow you take the tests for free. If you feel you can’t afford the test fee, contact your high school counselor.
- How do I register?
- The easiest and fastest way is online:
• SAT – http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/
• ACT – http://www.actstudent.org
You can also register by mail. You must register by mail if you are paying by check or money order. To register by mail, ask your counselor for the SAT Paper Registration Guide or ACT registration packet.
For help filling out the registration forms, or if you have questions or special circumstances, go to http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/how-to-register (SAT) or http://www.actstudent.org/regist/index.html (ACT).
- Is there extra help if I have special needs?
- You may be eligible to have adjustments made to your test setting if you have a documented disability. This may mean wheelchair accessibility, seating where you can hear best or lip-read, a printed copy of spoken directions or access to a snack due to a medical condition.
Ask your counselor to work with you in completing a Student Eligibility Form before you register for the SAT. For more information, visit http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/for-students-with-disabilities.
You can also request special accommodations to be made while taking the ACT. Ask your high school counselor or visit http://www.act.org/aap/disab/.
What about special circumstances?
Accommodation for special circumstances for SAT testing, such as Sunday testing for religious reasons, taking the test under the age of 13 or over the age of 21, and taking the test closer to home if you live more than 75 miles from the nearest test center, may be available.
Learn more at CollegeBoard.com.