SAT, ACT test prep makes or breaks scores

The start of the new school year also means the start of testing season.

Although testing season happens all year round, the beginning of the school year normally holds tests such as the SAT and ACT for juniors and seniors. Juniors and seniors try to get their highest scores on these tests earlier in the year so that they don’t have to stress about these integral parts of their college apps later. The SAT and ACT are standardized tests, but they differ in length and subjects. However, the SAT and ACT are not easy for most people.

Many hours of preparation are necessary to get a high composite score. Many students hire tutors for extra help or use online resources such as Khan Academy and Kaplan.

The SAT is made up of one reading section, one writing section, one math without calculator section, and one math section with a calculator. The SAT also offers an essay portion because some schools like to see your writing skills. The SAT is graded as a composite score of math and reading, totaling a 1600 as the highest score possible. But depending on which school’s students want to attend, necessary acceptance scores range from 1130 all the way to 1600. Franci Ventura ‘19, has been preparing all summer for the upcoming SAT tests.

“The first time I took the SAT, I was beyond overwhelmed and didn’t do as well as I thought I was going to. That’s when I knew I needed to study for this monster of a test,” Ventura said. “This summer I’ve been meeting with an SAT tutor. He is a graduate of Stanford University. We skype every single Thursday, and he has questions planned out in order to give me extra practice on the parts of the test I struggle with. He gives me a lot of homework as well to do for extra practice which really seems to be helping,” Ventura explained.

“I’ve also been working on practice problems in my free time. My tutor has pointed specific aspects of the test, mainly math, that I need to work on, and we’ve been going very in-depth on how to ace those parts of the test. I feel readier than ever to take the test,” Ventura said.

Since the SAT is the most common test that students choose to take, there are many students preparing for it in different ways.

Sydney Meric ‘19, studies for the SAT differently than Ventura does. Meric explained that she’s been meeting with a group every other weekend to study.

“Meeting with other kids in order to study helps me get different points of view on how to solve the questions that give me the most trouble. I also use Khan Academy to get extra practice problems on math because that’s what gives me the hardest time,” Meric said.

She said she is feeling a lot more prepared to take this test than she was the first time.

“Studying is key to success,” asserts Meric.

On the other hand, the ACT focuses more on one English section, one math section with calculator, one reading section, and one science section. An essay portion follows. Sometimes they put in two math sections, according to some students who have taken it, but one is then taken without a calculator.

ACT test questions are graded very differently from those on the SAT. Each section on the ACT is graded out of 36 points, but it is a lot harder to get points because the material is very in-depth. The average ACT score, according to www.princetonreview.com, is a 21.

Senior Victoria Snyder explained how she has been preparing for these exams.

“I have been meeting with a tutor every week, as well as using Kaplan for extra online practice. It has helped a lot, and it made me realize why I was getting certain questions wrong. I feel more confident than ever to take this test and nail it this year,” she said.

Living in Florida, students have the advantage of receiving the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. In order to receive this scholarship, which pays for college tuition, students must either have a 1290 on the SAT or 28 on the ACT. So, preparing for these tests is crucial to the success of students’ future years. Whether or not your first SAT or ACT test goes well, there is always room for improvement. Using tutors and online resources has been proved not just by students’ words but statistics to back it up. And, some students will feel they do better on one of the tests than the other—it varies by student.

In order to succeed and get into college, these test scores must meet the requirements set up by each specific school. So, study hard and reap the great results. These standardized tests are a lot less intimidating once the studying has been done and students feel prepared.

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© 2019 Bek Ficze 21'