Parent Primer for College Entrance Exams

The purpose of the ACT and SAT is to give colleges and universities another academic perspective of a student’s performance on a nationalized standardized test. The final score is a performance comparison to other students nationally.

The ACT: Scores range up to 36. Any score over 30 is extremely competitive. Scores under 20 are weak. The ACT tends to be more of an achievement based test. Students who do well with classroom preparation and textbook study perform better on this test. Students are not penalized for wrong answers and can send their best score to the colleges they are applying.

The SAT: Total score is 1600 and this represents two parts, Verbal(800)and Math(800). Scores between 1200 and 1400 cover the high average to superior range. The SAT tends to be more of an aptitude test. Students who are “book readers” perform better on this test. Students are penalized for wrong answers and all test scores are sent to colleges they are applying.

parentStrategy tips for optimizing your child’s score:

  1. EXPERIENCE- Students can obtain practice tests of both the ACT and SAT. Test taking experience is vital. Understanding the test format and time structure is invaluable. Repeated test taking improves scores.
  2. REVIEW and PREPARATION- Both tests cover an enormous amount of material. Therefore, reviewing math courses from freshman and sophomore years is extremely helpful. Tutors and special classes are excellent options.
  3. EVALUATION- Does your high school student have specific weaknesses? Is speed or test taking a problem? Talk with your child’s guidance counselor. Alternative test-taking arrangements can be made.