Are the SAT and ACT assessment tests still optional?
One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has been that, in many cases, college assessment testing was suspended, and even when it has been available, most schools have made the tests optional. As pandemic fears have eased, some colleges and universities have reinstated the requirement as part of their admissions process. Many other schools are still treating the tests as optional, at least for the 2022/23 school year.
This mixed message can be confusing, and as a result, many educators are recommending that students take the SAT and/or ACT anyway.
Why take the SAT or ACT?
- Some colleges and universities are again requiring it, with MIT being among the first to announce
- Many scholarship programs require that students take either the SAT or ACT
- A high score on a college entrance exam can still be an asset, even if optional, as schools do consider a student’s scores when making admissions decisions
- Students planning to study abroad are often required to submit SAT or ACT scores
- International students applying to U.S. colleges and universities are often required to submit SAT or ACT scores in order to qualify for scholarships
- Some states require that public school students take either test in order to graduate
- Many states also require homeschoolers to take nationally standardized tests in order to satisfy state testing requirements
What is the point of the SAT or ACT?
Basically, these tests help determine what you have learned, and whether you are ready for college. While some students don’t do well on standardized tests, and may find these intimidating, having a good score on one or both gives schools more information about a prospective student to help them make admissions decisions. So any competitive advantage an applicant can demonstrate is a bonus. Don’t let the “optional” status of these tests lull you into thinking you don’t need to take them.
What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?
Both exams are nationally recognized, but the SAT is seen as more of an evaluation of a student’s aptitude, and the ACT is considered more of a placement test or an indicator of academic achievement. Both tests have Math, Reading, and Writing sections and the ACT also has a Science section. The SAT has both a calculator and a no-calculator math section.
The SAT is made up of 154 questions and is scored between 400 and 1600. It requires more writing and problem solving, and gives the student more time to complete.
The ACT has 215 questions and is scored from 1 to 36. The questions are more straightforward and require less time to answer.
Students can take the ACT up to 12 times in order to get the highest score possible, and there is no limit on how many times a student may take the SAT. Each test is offered on 7 different dates throughout the year.
Preparing for the SAT and ACT
Practice tests are available online, and there are a multitude of services, some offered by local schools, to coach students and help them prepare for taking these tests. Most of these are paid services, and can cost upwards of $1,500, however it is possible to find some test prep offered for free, and many priced somewhere inbetween. Some courses are group classes, either in person or online, while others are one-on-one. The cost to take the tests themselves depends on whether you add the writing part of the test. The full ACT with writing costs $88 while the basic SAT costs $47 with additional subject tests costing $10 to $21 more.
One-on-one Online SAT and ACT Test Prep This Summer
Summer is the perfect opportunity for students to get ready for these exams, and TutorUp has experienced tutors who are certified teachers, skilled in preparing students for the SAT and ACT. If personalized, one-on-one test prep for the SAT or ACT is what you’re looking for, we have teacher/tutors who can help. Simply fill out the contact form on the right, or give us a call at 877-888-6787.