College Entrance Testing
College Entrance Testing
ACT and SAT – Tip Sheet
- ACT versus SAT - We advise our students to try one SAT and one ACT sometime starting in the spring semester of junior year. Developmentally, most students peak late in 11th grade into early fall of 12th grade so plan your testing calendars to match this. Colleges across the US will take either test for admission purposes. The ACT has been historically offered to all juniors at MUHS in February/March.
- The Registration Process - You can check the dates and register online at their respective websites www.collegeboard.org (SAT) and www.actstudent.org. Be sure to check your work, extracurricular or athletic schedules in advance to avoid date conflicts.
- Registration Fees and Test Waivers - Registration fees will vary depending on when you register (early/regular, late or standby) and if you are taking the writing portion. If cost is a burden, please see Mrs. Cleary or Mrs. Bennett about the possibility of a fee waiver for the process. ACT and SAT have eligibility requirements for fee waivers and MUHS is bound to comply with these requirements. Participating in the School Choice program does not guarantee a fee waiver.
- Student Photo Required - Students also have to take and upload a head and shoulders photo of themselves for registration and test security purposes. Please check respective websites for photo upload directions and deadlines.
- Taking ACT or SAT With or Without Writing - The SAT and the ACT each have an optional writing section. You'll need to decide if you want to (or need to) take the writing when you register. You can always consult a college's website (usually under “Admission Requirements”) to learn if that college requires the writing test.
- Changes to ACT Test Beginning September 2020 - As announced by ACT in October 2019, ACT setion Retests will begin to be available to all students following the completion of one full ACT test for detailed information, visit Summary and FAQs of the ACT Changes.
- Choosing a Test Site - When you register, you'll also have to check the test date for testing sites in the area and select a location for testing. The benefit of registering early is that your test site should be closer to home. Some students registering late have had to drive to Kenosha, Madison and Illinois. Please note: MUHS is NOT a national test site for ACT or SAT.
- Sending Test Scores to the Colleges - At registration time, you have the option to select up to four (4) colleges to receive your test scores automatically following the test. The benefit is that you won't have to pay an additional fee to send them to colleges at a later date. Most colleges accept any scores that are sent but use the highest score for admission and scholarship consideration. Students will be able to select the particular test date(s)/test score(s) to send to their colleges for both ACT and SAT. Students typically send more than one score since most colleges will take the best composite but often consider sub-scores depending on major preferences. Some colleges may also “super score” which means they create a new composite based on the best sub-scores earned on different sections of the test on different test dates. Remember, sending your scores during the test registration process is not required. You are always welcome to wait to send your scores or feel free to consult with the College Counseling Center if you're uncertain.
- How many times should I take a college entrance exam? - According to experts from school counseling, college admission and test preparation fields, the best answer for the majority of students is two, or, at most, three times. A higher score on either test can play into an admissions decision as well as a scholarship decision, depending on the college. A second or third-time tester can benefit from being more familiar with the test format and environment. After a second or third time, score increase is found to be minimal and a student and parent needs to consider the diminishing return to the amount of time and energy expended away from important daily school work, life balance and sleep.
- Accommodations for Students with Disabilities - If you (your son) has a documented disability, he may be eligible for testing accommodations including extended time, testing across days, a reader, etc. Documented disabilities and accommodations and the process/timeline for required documentation are provided by ACT and SAT. Appropriate forms with signatures and documentation must be postmarked by the deadlines set by the testing agency. In order to meet deadlines, families are required to get the appropriate paperwork to Mrs. Cleary at least one week prior to posted deadlines.
- Test Preparation - There are free test materials including ACT Academy or SAT’s Khan Academy. A number of additional test prep resources are listed in the document library of Naviance. We recommend checking a few places and decide what dates and times work, costs and if you want to be part of a class or have individual tutoring. As far as recommendations go, the feedback from our students is mixed. The one consistent positive heard is that the boys have appreciated individual tutoring over the group/class setting. In addition, much depends on the student’s attitude -a student who wants to learn something about standardized testing probably will get more out of any prep sessions over a student who doesn’t want to take the class. Remember, everyone does NOT need to pay to have productive test prep.
- SAT Subject Tests - Some colleges may recommend or require SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT. Subject tests are one-hour, subject specific tests in areas ranging from math and science to literature, history and languages (similar to AP tests). Colleges requiring the tests will specify how many (usually two or three) and sometimes which ones (math and science are common). Colleges will clarify their recommendation or requirement on their website or you may contact the college admission office.
- Test Optional / Test Flexible - In recent years, a growing number of colleges and universities have gone “test optional” or “test flexible” which means they put less emphasis on standardized test scores (ACT and/or SAT) when making admission decisions. Review each of your prospective colleges to understand their test score submission requirements or options. For example, some colleges may require a test-optional applicant to complete an additional essay in the application in place of submitting test scores or you may find they still require a score for certain academic or scholarship program consideration. Almost 1100 schools are currently using this practice. A searchable database of schools can be found at http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional
- Questions - As with all topics related to the college search and decision-making process, please feel free to contact the College Counseling Center. You can reach Mrs. Annette Cleary (Student Last Names A-L) at 414-933-7220, ext. 3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mrs. Connie Bennett (Student Last Names M-Z) at 414-933-7220 ext. 3168 or email@example.com.
ACT and SAT Testing Information
Getting and Sending SAT and ACT Test Scores