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Is the SAT the better test to take?
While both the ACT and SAT have many similarities, there are differences to consider as well. The break down of the SAT favors math a bit more in the overall score while the ACT favors reading and data analysis. The SAT math puts more focus on Algebra 1 and 2 whereas the ACT also puts equal weight on Geometry. On average, the SAT gives a bit more time per question (Up to 27 extra seconds per question at best). For details on everything that’s different about each test, check out this post.
If you’re looking for resources, though, especially free ones, it’s worth noting that the SAT has undergone drastic changes over the last decade, so using older tests to prepare is less reliable. The SAT had some major changes in 2012 and again in 2016. Now, in 2024, the SAT is about to undergo another major change with the digital SAT, which will also see some changes to the overall structure of the test.
How do I register for the SAT?
You register for the SAT on the College Board website. To register for the test you will need to have or create a College Board account.
- Find a testing location near you using the College Board’s Test Center Search Tool. Take note that the number of centers will vary by location, and not all testing centers will offer every SAT test date or may have available seats by time you register. You will be able to see availability as you register online, though.
- Choose a testing date. Look at the chart above and figure out when you would like to take the test. Outside of your own school, testing dates are always on a Saturday.
- Sign into your College Board account. Students must register for themselves. A parent or counselor cannot do it for you.
- Register for the test. You can get started at the College Board’s SAT Suite page. Make sure you enter your full name exactly as it appears on the photo ID you will use on test day.
- Prepare for test day. Make sure you set out everything you need the night before and have everything you need for the test. Must-haves include:
- Face covering
- Your up-to-date admission ticket. (You need to print this out.)
- Acceptable photo ID
- Two No. 2 pencils with erasers
- An approved calculator
- Epinephrine auto-injectors (like EpiPens) are permitted without the need for accommodations. They must be placed in a clear bag and stored under the student’s desk during testing. For policies on other medications and medical devices, contact Services for Students with Disabilities.
What is the cost of the SAT?
It is $60 to register for the SAT. Various other costs may be associated with your test if you wish to do things such as change test dates, rush scores, or get a more detailed report. Late registration incurs an addition $30 fee. Some students are eligible for a fee waiver which covers the cost of regular or late registration. According to the College Board, 11th and 12th-grade students are eligible for fee waivers if one or more of the following applies:
- You’re enrolled in or eligible to participate in the federal National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
- Your family’s annual income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service.
- You’re enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families, for example, TRIO programs like Upward Bound.
- Your family receives public assistance.
- You’re homeless or live in federally subsidized public housing or a foster home.
- You’re a ward of the state or an orphan.
When should I take the SAT?
We recommend giving yourself a few months to prepare for the test. As with any exam, the earlier you start preparing, the better. This is because it will take time to learn new concepts, memorize the necessary formulas, and improve your understanding for advanced concepts. If you’re looking ahead, you could start working on essential concepts like Algebra, Geometry, Data Analysis, Reading Comprehension, and Grammar/Punctuation in 9th grade. As students encounter these concepts in their high school classes, build a deeper understanding of the core concepts, how they relate, and word problems. If you haven’t thought of preparing beforehand, though, it’s not too late. Most students take these tests in their junior and senior years.
How long should I study for the SAT?
To give yourself the best chances of absorbing new information and improving your score, we recommend a minimum of 2-3 months in between taking tests. Of course, this will vary depending on your schedule and how much time you can devote to studying, how easily you can understand the concepts, and your current level of preparedness. Taking back to back tests will likely not show much difference in scores unless you intend to undergo a bootcamp-like study schedule.
Should I take the SAT more than once?
For best results, you should consider taking the SAT at least twice if possible. For many students, the first time taking the SAT will not be the best. Taking the test the first time will allow students to get used to the content, format, and pacing. Tutoring or prep resources can help with this, but nothing beats actually experiencing test day. After getting your score back, you can use it to see which areas need improvement and adjust your study strategy.
Fortunately, many high schools offer testing for the PSAT and SAT at least once sometime during freshman and junior years. The benefit to this is that there is no need to register, schedule, or pay for these tests as the school handles it all. The downside is that you do not have the leeway to tell your school when you would like to take the test – you are taking it on your school’s timeline, so if you’re hoping to get a really early start, you will probably want to get started on your own.
Changes coming to the SAT
The SAT is in the process of changing. By next year, the test will be digital. Students will be able to take the test on a managed device (such as a school laptop) or personal device (excluding mobile phones). The test will also be shorter overall with the No-Calculator Math section going away and reading passages becoming shorter. The new test is estimated to be roughly 2 hours long. Read more details here.
Do I need to have a tutor for the SAT?
If you’re not satisfied with your scores and you find that your scores are not improving, especially after months of studying, you likely need some help. There are a variety of ways tutors can help students studying for the test. Tutors can help students review the essential information, concepts, and formulas they need for the test; review test-taking strategies; and/or show you how to use your time efficiently to get that coveted perfect score.
If you need a tutor, give us a call. We have helped students with all the situations above, and our students see significant increases in their scores after roughly 8 sessions (8 hours) with one of our tutors.
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