I’m fairly certain that 95% of sitcoms have done an “SAT Freak Out” episode in which a character has a dream that he/she shows up to the test wearing nothing but a potato sack. I can tell you right now that your pencils won’t spontaneously combust, the proctor won’t morph into a unicorn, and you won’t end up living in a box if you do poorly.
What our favorite sitcoms fail to emphasize is that college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT are not the end-all-be-all. You can re-take exams and the concepts aren’t nearly as intimidating as they seem.
With all that said, here are the basics on the college entrance exams, the SAT, SAT Subject Tests and the ACT.
SAT Reasoning Test
The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized exam designed to measure students’ critical thinking and analysis skills. It’s also believed to be a strong predictor of a student’s ability to perform at the college level. Individuals typically take it their junior and senior years of high school and it’s administered 7 times a year in the US. The test is comprised of 10 sections and the total testing time is 3 hours and 45 minutes. The main areas tested are reading, writing, and mathematics. You receive a score between 200 and 800 for each of those areas. There are also two sub-scores for the writing section. One is an essay sub-score which is evaluated on a scale of 2-12 and the other is a multiple choice sub-score evaluated on a scale of 20-80.
SAT Subjects Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are standardized exams used to measure your knowledge in a particular subject. The subjects tested are English, history/social studies, mathematics, science, and language. Some colleges require you to take a certain number of SAT Subjects Tests in order to apply. Among those schools, some require you to take certain ones and others allow you to pick which ones you take. At colleges that don’t require you to complete the tests, many applicants choose to take them in order to demonstrate a mastery of a subject. Each test is multiple choice and one hour in length. Students are encouraged to take a test shortly after completing a class in that subject (in order for the material to be fresh). The only exception is language, in which students should allow themselves several years to allow their knowledge to mature.
Similar to the SAT, the ACT is a standardized exam designed to measure your ability to analyze and think c...