If you’ve got a junior, chances are your teen will be taking the SAT or ACT during the school year.
And I’m guessing that, unless you just went through this with an older kid, you haven’t thought of these exams since you were in high school.
Things. Have. Changed.
Before registering your teenager for an SAT or ACT exam this year, read through these tips to make sure you’re taking the right action to set your teen up for success.
Know that either exam works for college admissions.
It used to be that different regions in the U.S. offered one test or the other, and not both. Kids in the Northeast took the SAT; Midwest teens took the ACT.
It’s not like that anymore.
All four-year colleges in the U.S. accept either exam for admissions and weigh them both equally. (Some colleges don’t require an exam at all, but that’s a post for another day.)
So how do you know which your kid should take? Read on…
Learn which exam is better for your teen.
There are charts out there explaining the differences between the SAT and ACT, and which “types” of students do better on one over the other.
Ignore all that.
I’ve been in the test prep field long enough to know that the very best way to figure out which exam your teen should take is to have them take an ACT and SAT practice exam and compare.
Many students outperform on one test over another in an obvious way. Other teens’ test scores are more comparable to one other.
Download these instructions for taking a real SAT and ACT practice exam, along with a handy score comparison chart. This will allow you to determine whether the SAT or ACT is the best option for your teen.
Focus on preparing for either the SAT or the ACT. Not both.
The SAT and ACT are both used for college admissions, but they’re both very different tests with different content and strategies.
Teens should prepare for one exam to minimize the confusion they’re sure to encounter if studying for both.
Consider not taking the exam that’s offered at the school if the test (or test date) isn’t the right fit.
Many states will sponsor a free SAT or ACT exam sitting at local high schools, usually in the spring.
While the ACT or SAT exam is required for college admissions, it doesn’t matter which of the exams a student takes. And there are test dates for these exams that are held throughout the school year for students to choose from. (Check out national SAT test dates and ACT test dates.) And note that there’s a cost for test dates outside of sponsored state-wide tests.
Know, though, that some states now require the SAT or ACT for high school graduation. Check with your teen’s school counselor to learn about graduation rules.
Register for the optional SAT or ACT essay section.
I know, I know. Some colleges don’t require it. Or they just recommend it.
And your teen will try to convince you that it’s not necessary.
But I promise, it’s better to have your teen write the essay than not. Regardless of what you know about the requirements of the colleges on your teen’s list, know that writing the essay can greatly affect admissions and scholarship opportunities.
Check out my article Should Your Teen Take the Optional SAT or ACT Essay? for a deeper explanation on this one.
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