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  • Writer's pictureNations Voice

Your guide to the SAT and ACT

Zackary Fox, Director of the Paris Bespoke Education program, which helps students prepare for both the ACT and SAT, came to Nations to present information about the SAT and ACT to Year 11 and 12 students.

Both the SAT and ACT are “increasingly similar.” The ACT is comprised of an English section, a Math section, a Reading section and a Science section. There is also an optional essay section. Both the SAT and ACT have optional essay tests, it is recommended to take the essay section of both tests as some universities would prefer it. The Science section of the ACT is neither Biology, Chemistry or Physics, it’s all about being able to read graphs and data. The ACT is out of 36, it should be noted that it’s nearly impossible to get a 36, and you should absolutely not feel pressured to get a 36. The ACT is all about speed, you have very little time to answer the questions. This is especially challenging in the reading section as you have approximately 8 minutes to read the entire text and answer the questions. ACT test takers often read the first and last sentences in a paragraph then see if they can answer the questions.

The SAT is comprised of an Evidence-based Reading and writing section and a Math section, along with the optional essay. There are also subject-specific tests, which are individual SAT subject tests; a perfect score is a 1600. You get 400 points just for writing your name and if you get one question wrong, you will drop to between a 1530 and 1550. The reading section has some parts which are similar to ACT Science, it contains graphs and charts. The Math is harder on the SAT and in one Math section you are not allowed to use a calculator. In the SAT you’ll have to take a long wordy question and extracts what’s actually Math from it. You need to prepare for both of these tests, there are SAT/ACT prep classes offered at La Chat and LGB, if there is interest, then there could be one offered at Nations as well.


Q.1) Do universities priorities SAT/ACT results over IB results?

No, the most important thing you will show universities are your school grades. These tests are far below the importance of school grades.

Q.2) So what will happen if you get really good IB results but bad SAT/ACT scores?

You might want to look at test-optional schools if your scores are way below your IB scores. Some universities have difficulty accepting students below a specific level, as they create cut-off lines. You’ll have two or three chances to take these tests, and if you don’t do well the first time, then you’ll continue to work and you’ll do the best that you can do.

Q.3) Can you give us examples of some subject specific SAT tests?

Sure, there’s Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math I, Math II, French, Italian, Spanish, German, English Literature, World History, US history, Chinese, there are a lot of tests. These tests are used to show what you are strongest in. If you apply to engineering, they will most likely require a Math II test, a Physics, and Biology test.

Q.4) Are there any university that priorities SAT’s or ACT’s and vice versa?

No, all universities will accept both without preference. So you just need to figure out which one you’re better at and prepare for that. There is no reason to take both, to adequately prepare requires time and you don’t need to waste time in preparing for both.

Q.5) Do you have to take the SAT/ACT of you want to study in Canada?

No, you don’t have to if you have received your IB Diploma.

Q.6) Are there some universities that prefer ACT over SAT?

No. Generally, universities require one or the other therefore you should try practise tests and take the test which you feel most comfortable with and do better in.

Q.7) What resources would you recommend us to use for online coaching/tutoring?

There are free practice tests for the SAT on Khan Academy and in the School library; you could also use SAT study guides. For the ACT, there are free practice tests on their website.


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