The SAT and ACT
Most four-year colleges require that students submit SAT or ACT scores. Here’s how each of these tests is structured:
The SAT has three major sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing
The ACT has four major sections: English, Math, Reading and Science (and an optional essay section).
Differences between the ACT and SAT are listed on the ACT/SAT Chart
When to take the Exams
These facts may help with your planning:
Most students take the SAT or ACT for up to two times during the spring of their Junior year.
Students who choose to take the SAT or ACT a third time typically do so in the Fall of Senior year.
SAT Subject Tests are best taken directly following relevant courses, while the material from class is still fresh in your mind. But you can take them at any time during high school.
Keep in mind that while many students take tests more than once, there’s no evidence that taking a test more than twice significantly improves students’ scores. The best thing you can do is take time to prepare and get familiar with the test format before you take the test.
PSAT (Practice SAT)
Over three million high school students take the Preliminary SAT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT or NMSQT) each year. Like the SAT, the PSAT is designed to measure the ability to understand and process elements of reading, writing, and mathematics. Many students use this exam to get feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the SAT. In addition, students may qualify for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship program based on their PSAT scores.