Which test is right for me? ACT vs. SAT?
What Is It?
Along with rigor of schedule, grade-point average and class rank, The ACT Test is one of the criteria used by 4-year universities/colleges to determine freshman admission. It is a curriculum-based test, meaning it is based on the information students should be learning in their core classes. There are four main tests, English, Reading, Science and Math, of which all are scored out of a 36 maximum points, and a writing component that is scored on a 12-point scale. There is no penalty for guessing incorrectly. Students can take the test multiple times, on specified testing dates, and universities/colleges will consider their top score. Some scholarships use ACT scores as a determining factor as well.
When Does It Take Place?
Beginning the 2014-15 school year, all juniors in public high schools in the state of Wisconsin take the ACT at their school in early March at no cost to the student. While this test is used for measuring school performance, it is the same ACT test used for university/college placement, and can be used for admissions; the exception would be if a student received accommodations not allowed by universities/colleges for placement decisions.
The ACT is also offered in September, October, December, February, April and June at most national testing sites in Wisconsin and Minnesota. While it can be taken multiple times, it is a curriculum-based test so we encourage students to take the test later in the year when they have nearly completed their courses. Since juniors will take the Test in March, we recommend April or June as a back-up date in case students feel they could have done better. Illness and stress from personal situations, and test anxiety are all issues that may come up on test day that result in a student wanting to retest. We highly recommend student and parents schedule this early to avoid conflicts with other personal events.
Who Takes It? / What Does It Cost?
The test is typically taken by juniors, as mentioned above, but some seniors take the test early in their senior year (Sept., Oct., and/or Dec.) to better their scores. With the exception of the state-wide testing for juniors, which is free (and only available to juniors), the fee for the Basic ACT is $46.0, and for the Basic ACT Plus Writing is $62.50. Students who are on free or reduced lunch are eligible for a fee waiver, which can be picked up in the counseling office.
What is the Writing Test?
The optional writing test is used by some colleges, not all, as part of the admittance process – a list of schools that require the writing test can be found on the ACT website. As of 2015, UW Madison is the only 4-year school in the state of Wisconsin that requires the ACT writing test, and four Minnesota colleges require the writing portion. The writing portion is part of the test all juniors take for the state testing requirement.
How Do I Register?
The ACT website for students is www.actstudent.org, and information about how to register, where the testing sites are located, etc., is located on that website. When a student registers they are allowed to send scores to up to four colleges for free- we highly recommend that students use all four free choices. While the Prescott School District pays to be allowed to put student ACT scores on our transcripts, some colleges now require students to send the scores directly to ACT at a cost of about $13 per school. A few universities/colleges and the NCAA require that ACT scores be sent to them directly from ACT, so if you are planning to apply to one or more of the following, be sure to list them as one of your four free universities/colleges when you register: UW-Madison (4656), UW-La Crosse (4672), UW-Eau Claire (4670), University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (2156), Winona State University (2162), and NCAA (9999).
How Do I Prepare?
Since the ACT is a curriculum-based test, the main way to prepare is by doing the best you can in core classes- the more you have learned, the better you should do. ACT has test prep help at www.actstudent.org/testprep. 2017-2018 dates, fees, and registration instructions will come soon.
The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) will be administered on Wednesday, October 19, from 8:00-11:00 AM. College-bound juniors are encouraged to take this test. Eligibility for National Merit Scholarships begins with qualifying PSAT test scores. Register in the counseling office by Friday, September 23, by paying the registration fee of $20 (make checks payable to Prescott School District).
Typically the ACT is sufficient for applying to a four-year college. The SAT is used by selective schools for entrance requirements and by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for further consideration for a National Merit Scholarship. The SAT has three sections, Math, Critical Reading and Short Essay Writing, with a total length of 3 3/4 hours. The SAT does not have a Science section. Vocabulary knowledge is heavily emphasized. The score range is 600-2,400 points. You will be penalized for guessing incorrectly. The fee for SAT plus writing is $57.00 (SAT no writing is $45) including score reports sent to four colleges. If you are considering the SAT, please talk to Mr. Peterson in the guidance office. More SAT information can be found in the counseling office or online at www.collegeboard.com.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a great way for students to learn about his/her specific career skills. Students wanting to enter the military will need to take this test. This year Prescott High School will be giving the ASVAB to all our sophomores (and interested juniors* and seniors*) on Thursday October 6, beginning at 8 a.m. Our student’s scores will not be forwarded to any military branch. We plan to use the results of this test in our Employment Education class, to help student examine their personal skills in reference to potential careers. If you have questions about the test, please email Mr. Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about the ASVAB at www.asvabprogram.com. *If you are a junior or senior and want to take the ASVAB, please sign up in the Counseling Office by Friday, September 30.