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Scheduling the SAT or ACT

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Scheduling the SAT or ACT is another important decision that you need to make with some intention. I suggest that students take these tests in the spring, when their math courses are nearly complete. The content of the math has gotten a little more difficult, so it’s important to have as much of the content complete before taking high stakes tests. The spring presents its own challenges, however, as students are tired, prom is almost always the same day as the SAT, and motivation may be at a low. Seniors should take the tests in the Fall. This allows them to get their scores before the early admission deadline. It also gives them time to re-take the test if they need to. How many times can a student take the test? Students can take the test as many times as they want to pay for it. However, research indicates that scores go down after the third attempt. My opinion based on years of experience is that they should take it once to see how they do. If they are satisfied with their scores, they’re done. If not, they can do some prepping and take it away. Again, research shows that scores on the second attempt generally go up – with or without prepping - because students have the experience of that kind of testing and they know what’s expected. Students should never take the test a third time without some sort of tutoring by a specialist to help them. How are test scores reported? When students fill out their initial test answer sheet, they will write the schools they wish the scores to be sent. If they take the test multiple times, all test results will show up on the reports to their colleges. However, most colleges accept the highest scores in each category. So if they score 500 in the verbal section on their first attempt, and 650 on their second, the 650 is the one the colleges use in their consideration for acceptance and scholarships. On the other hand, if they score 650 in math the first time and then a 500, the colleges will use the 650 number. What are the achievement tests and when should my student takes them? The achievement tests are about content: specific knowledge about science, history, literature, math. In literature, for instance, students are tested over specific authors, poems, novels. If they take a biology achievement test, they are expected to know the concepts taught in biology. Before taking any achievement test, students should find out what ones, if any, are expected from their chosen university. Then, they should take the tests after the year they were taught. In other words, biology is generally a 10th grade course. Students should take the biology achievement test as close as possible to the end of 10th grade. Always check the college board website for the dates as achievement tests aren’t offered every time the reasoning tests are offered. My student is in Running Start. Does he need to take the SAT or ACT? The fast answer is “No.” The right answer is “Yes.” Here’s why. Even though your student is in running start (or going to be), he won’t necessarily have earned his AA at the end of two years. But he may decide to go to a 4-year college anyway. Good SAT and ACT scores will help in the acceptance process. They also help with scholarships.

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