What’s the ACT & SAT?

Although they can be a real pain, standardized tests are an important part of the college admissions process.  Therefore, it’s important that you know about each exam and how they will impact you.

What is the ACT?

The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of the following subject areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.  The ACT Plus Writing includes the four subject test areas plus a 30 minute writing test.

The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete (or 4 hours if you are taking the writing test).  The highest possible score is a 36.

The ACT is administered on 6 test dates within the 50 United States and District of Columbia: September, October, December, February, April, and June.

The basic registration fee is $32 (or $47 if you take the ACT Plus Writing)*.  This fee entitles you to a score report for yourself, your high school, and up to four colleges.  You may add additional colleges for $9 each.

*Keep in mind that these fees are subject to change.  Visit this website for the most current information: www.act.org/

What Is The SAT?

The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States.  The exam itself contains three sections – Mathmatics, Critical Reading, and Writing.

Each section is worth a total of 800 points and possible scores range from 600-2400.  The exam itself takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

The basic registration fee is $45 (or $71 for international students)*.

*Keep in mind that these fees are subject to change.  Visit this website for the most current information: www.collegeboard.com/

Which one do I have to take?

It depends on the school.  You should research the specific requirements of each of the schools on your list to determine which of these exams are required.

Historically, the SAT has been more popular for colleges on the east and west coast and the ACT more popular in the Midwest and South.

When do I take them?

Most students take the ACT and/or SAT in the spring of their junior year of high school.  Many students choose to take it a second time in the fall of their senior year after becoming familiar with the test day experience.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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