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SAT I Test Prep

When you hear people talk about the “SAT test,” they’re really talking about the SAT I, and if you’re a high school student, especially one at a competitive New York high school, you’ll hear the SAT talked about.

Ridgewood Test Prep - SAT vs. ACT

The northern NJ area is highly competitive with regard to college applications, and it is important to make yourself stand out with exceptional test scores. One of the most common questions we field at CATES is: "Should I take the SAT or the ACT?" We know that students want to receive an acceptance from their top choice schools so we encourage them to try both and see which is a better fit. At CATES, we offer free SAT practices tests and free ACT practice tests almost ever weekend, so sign up!

Many students dread the SAT because it uses intentionally tricky language. For students who want to demonstrate content knowledge and feel more comfortable with straightforward questions, the ACT may be a better fit. It tests what you know as opposed to how you think. This is a major distinction between the two tests. If students have gotten good grades in challenging classes during high school, they may prefer the ACT, as it allows them to showcase what they have learned. Those who are exceptional at taking tests may opt for the SATwhich allows them to apply strategic thinking to arrive at the correct answer.

When deciding which test to take, students also should factor in their time management skills. Since the ACT is administered in 4 major sections, it may be more challenging for those who struggle with single self-paced extended time. The 3 separately timed sections of the SAT may be easier to manage.

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Before you decide which one is the right fit for you, here is a breakdown of the main differences:

SATACT
3 Sections, plus the optional essay: Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, and Math Test 4 Sections, plus the optional Writing Test: English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning
3 hours + 50-minute essay (optional) 2 hours and 55 minutes + 40-minute essay (optional)
SAT tests math up to Algebra II ACT tests math up to Trigonometry
SAT tests vocabulary directly ACT does not test vocabulary
Scored out of 1600 points Scored out of 36 points, with Writing scored separately on a 12-point scale
Chances are, you must also take SAT II’s You often do not need SAT II’s if you take the Writing Test
No guessing penalty No guessing penalty
Easier to get extended time for LD students Much harder to get extended time

Details aside, it all comes down to which test you can make better gains on. Many students believe the ACT will be a better choice for them, but upon closer investigation, sometimes it turns out they can score better on the SAT.

Lastly, an often-overlooked aspect of choosing between the SAT and the ACT is composite improvement. Since the ACT composite score is generated by averaging the scores from the four sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science), a student must improve in almost every aspect of the exam in order to improve their overall score—gains in only one section will not make a big difference in raising the composite score, since those gains will be spread out when the scores are averaged together. One lagging section can keep a composite from breaking into the 30’s. On the SAT, however, answering five more questions correctly between the Critical Reading and the Math sections could raise your score from a 1250 to a 1300. As you can see, on the SAT, smaller improvements can make a huge difference in your composite score.

CATES Tutoring offers its services to students close by in Bergen County, NJ. Our offices and tutors are providing SAT preparation in Fort Lee, Hoboken, Cressikill, Princeton, Westfield and many other towns near you. Sign up for a free SAT practice test or a free ACT practice test any weekend at CATES to decide which test is the right fit for you.

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