Thursday, February 9, 2017

SAT and ACT: Info & Prep

Many colleges require standardized testing for admission. All colleges take both exams, the ACT and the SAT, and show no preference for either exam.

Free practice is available here and
Free practice requires YOU to actually initiate and do the work. Some students take an SAT prep course because they need the structure of showing up for the course and doing the assigned work. Your free practice can be done anytime, starting NOW. If your PSAT scores were below 540 on any section, you must prep.
It is helpful to look at the TIPS for each section so you become a better test taker. That alone will RAISE your scores.
  • March, May or June is when juniors could consider taking the test. Retest in October or November of senior year.
  • Only West Point and the U of California system requires the optional writing / essay portion.
  • Colleges superscore the SAT, taking your highest EBRW and Math scores from multiple test dates.
  • Colleges frown upon you making this a hobby/part-time job: taking the test 5 times is too many. Prepare well, take it, look at your scores, regroup and take again. 
  • Colleges frown upon taking it only once. You really should take it twice. Scores typically rise the 2nd time due to your familiarity with the test.
  • Look at your schedule for sports, job and family commitments and sign up at
  • If it is your first time at takes a while to create your profile (25 minutes). Our School Code is 200805. When you register, make sure you indicate our high school code, which is different from the high school where you are testing.
  • Only 2 colleges require subject tests: MIT and McGill. You can't take SAT plus subject tests on the same test date. Plan ahead for this extra testing requirement.
ACT Prep
ACT Tips like this are CRUCIAL:
  • "Answer every question. Your scores on the multiple-choice tests are based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing. There is a penalty for blanks."
  • Set up your account
  • Take the exam without writing in June and September. Only West Point and the U of California system require the writing portion.
  • Our School Code is 200805. When you register, make sure you indicate our high school code, which is different from the high school where you are testing.
ACT & SAT Prep Sites (free) offers free prep after you register.

SAT-only Prep Sites (free)
Answer the SAT Question of the Day at
Sign up to receive the Question of the Day by email by setting up a free account.
The official SAT site has a free full-length practice test:

ACT-only Prep Sites (free)
The official ACT site has free practice questions here:

No registration needed for this free ACT practice exam:

Yes, this will feel like you added another course to your already busy schedule. That is a normal feeling. Embrace it.

  • The ACT score range is 1-36. National Average is 21.
  • The SAT score range is 200-800. The National Average is 550 for each section.
  • Want to know if you performed better on the ACT or the SAT? Check out the Concordance Table. All concordance tables must be 2016 or later to be accurate. 
  • Test Optional colleges: over 1000 colleges do not require standardized tests.
  • Confused by SAT's Score Choice? Send all scores to your colleges and keep things simple. Here's the reason why, from University of Virginia: "Most colleges in this country have been looking at your best combination of SAT scores for many years. When Score Choice was introduced, it was advocating a more restricted version of what we already do. At UVa, our practices remain the same. Our system is programmed to pull the best verbal, best math, and best writing scores over multiple test dates."
Test Prep Companies in the Portland Area
Cheverus students report success with the following test prep companies:

links verified 2/2020

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