Most colleges require applicants to take either the SAT or ACT. These are standardized tests that some schools use only for placement purposes, but most use as one of the indicators for admission.

SAT or ACT?

These two tests are very different, although most colleges will accept either one. It is difficult to predict on which test a student will score better. At MND, we recommend that students take both tests in the spring of the junior year and again in the fall of the senior year. Most students score higher on their second attempt.

ACT - The ACT tests four areas: English, math, reading and science reasoning. Each areas is scored separately from 1-36. A composite score is also given. The ACT is considered an achievement test and is designed to assess what a student has learned in order to determine readiness for college-level work. There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT.

The ACT offers an optional 30-minute writing section. Students not planning to take the SAT (which requires a writing section) should choose to take this additional test. This will give colleges a better idea for placement in freshman English classes.

SAT – The SAT is a nearly four-hour test that examines students’ reasoning and analytical skills. The SAT measures critical reading, math and writing. In addition, the writing score will include two sub-scores – one for grammar usage and one for the student essay. The critical reading section contains short reading passages and sentence completion problems. The math section contains multiple choice and student-produced responses. Calculators are permitted, but not required. The 25-minute essay will always be the first section on the SAT, and the 10-minute multiple choice writing section will always be the final portion of the test. On the SAT, students are penalized for incorrect answers, so avoid random guessing; it is better to leave a question blank.

Some more competitive colleges also require students to take the SAT Subject Tests. These are hour-long tests that measure competency in a specific subject. Schools often require students to take the test in a student’s foreign language and then two additional tests of their choosing. We recommend taking a subject test in an area in which you’ve just finished the course. Students should carefully check a prospective college’s admissions policies to find out if these tests are required. The SAT Subject Tests are administered at the same time as the SAT.

FAQ

  • When are the SAT and ACT tests given? Both tests are administered on Saturdays. The ACT is offered five times each year, and the SAT is available eight times per year.
     
  • How do I register? You must register for the tests weeks before the actual test date.
  • Where will I take the test? MND is a test center for both the SAT and ACT. This is a huge advantage because students will feel more comfortable in a familiar setting and will be better able to focus on the test. It is important to note that MND is not a test center for every date, so be sure to register early to ensure a spot on our campus. Registering late may result in being assigned a test center at another school.

    To register, you will need MND’s high school code, also known as the CEEB code.
    MND’s code is: 361045.
     

  • Where should I send my scores? Students can send their scores to four colleges for the price of the test. Sending a score does not commit you to apply to that school. For additional schools, or if you wish to send your scores to a school at a later date, you will have to pay approximately $10 per school.
     
  • How important are my SAT/ACT scores? The primary factor that college admissions' counselors consider is the strength of the high school curriculum. If you have taken difficult courses and done well, as determined by your GPA, this is highly regarded. The second factor is test performance. With that in mind, be sure to prepare for the tests. Go over your PSAT and PLAN results. Understand why you got any question incorrect.

    There are also practice tests available online. Check out the following:

There are also reference books that can be helpful:

  • Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT
  • The Official SAT Study Guide
  • McGraw Hill’s SAT I
     

MND also offers our own SAT/ACT prep course each spring. There are also others given around the metro area. Ask your counselor for more information, or check your Road to College Resource Guide or the first Junior Newsletter.

Other Resources:


 

  • Keep your anxiety in check by:
    • Knowing exactly where the test center is. Take a practice run if you aren’t sure.
    • Bringing two, sharpened #2 pencils.
    • Bringing your admission ticket.
    • Bringing a calculator, with fresh batteries.
    • Bringing your photo ID.
    • Getting plenty of sleep the night before and eating a healthy breakfast the day of the test.