The 11 Most FAQ about SAT and ACT Test Preparation

Recently I did a live presentation entitled – The College Admissions Process: SAT? ACT? – What is your plan at a local library.

Here is a video of this event…

or… http://youtu.be/3c2lQ-tjHzA

This is the 20th time I’ve done a talk of this nature. Why so often? Simple… Students and their parents have a lot of questions about this very important process. There are always questions that come up so here there are along with the answers…

The 11 Most FAQ about SAT and ACT Test Preparation

  1. How long are typical SAT & ACT prep courses and how far in advance of the test should my child take a program?
    Typically 8-15 weeks. You should start so that the program(s) concludes with the test date(s)
  2. Do SAT & ACT prep programs require daily student practice?
    YES… 20 – 30 minutes a day 4x or 5x a week
  3. Where do students have the greatest resistance?
    Scheduling is usually an issue (they are busy and often this occurs during school time with sports / homework / plays / out of school activities etc). Some students welcome test prep as a challenge, and others treat is as a ‘rite of passage’. The key is to show the value of test prep to the students.
  4. Are PSAT scores in 10th or 11th grade a reflection of how my child will do on SATs?
    They are a benchmark of expectation since the PSAT emulates the SAT. The 11th grade PSAT is a better benchmark. An expectation (based on test publishers) is that without prep, a student will score +/- 40 net points from the PSAT score.
  5. What are the dates/deadlines and websites for registration for 2014/2015 school year SAT & ACT EXAMS?
    www.collegeboard.org for the SAT
    www.actstudent.org for the ACT
  6. Which test – the SAT or ACT – should my child take if he/she doesn’t know the type of school he/she wants?
    Since colleges will accept both tests, the decision should first be based on which test you feel your child will do better on (higher score) since the goal is about getting a better relative score to increase the possibility of admission to the institution of choice.
  7. What can my child do now in 9th/10th grade to plan ahead for the SAT or ACT tests?
    Study vocabulary now since it’s a long term activity. Keep up with school concepts, especially in Math. The SAT and ACT both have online practice test materials that can be utilized or questions of the day. Even doing a problem a day is a start.
  8. Are there advantages/disadvantages of my child doing more than one SAT or ACT prep program?
    Yes, and no. You can argue that the more prep the better, but sometimes different courses have different and conflicting test taking strategies… so really it’s more about consistency and having a consistent plan for the tests. The goal is for a student is to approach the test and practice for the test in the most consistent repeatable way possible. My opinion is that the longer prep is spread over time the more effective it is and different classes have different pacing.
  9. How much can we realistically expect our son/daughter’s SAT or ACT scores to improve with test prep?
    Bear in mind that since the higher your starting score, the more difficult it is to improve, so a person with a starting 1000 score (of 1600) would and should improve more than a person with a start score of 1200 (of 1600). Having said this, a reasonable expectation is an improvement of 100 points. I have had students increase >300 points or more in some cases however. You can expect a commensurate improvement in the ACT scores with the 36 point scoring system.
  10. Are there differences in requirements for SAT or ACT exams between in-state vs. out-of-state schools?
    In terms of admission and admissions test, very little. Many large state schools may have quotas for the number of in-state students that they must accept which limits the number of out of state candidates.
  11. My child has accommodations in school such as extra time on tests… will we get this as well on a standard SAT or ACT test?
    Any test accommodation must be arranged with the test administration companies. An accommodation that is granted in a school setting (e.g. extra time on test) is not automatically granted on a standard test. It is an independent approval. A guidance counselor should be able to address your specific situation better.

What questions do you have? Let’s see them in the comments.

Ask your questions in the comments below and you will get answers asap or Contact Dr Steven Greene at mAke the grAde at sgreene@makethegrade.net

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