Now is the time for college-bound students to begin preparation for the 2014 SAT and ACT exams. At Sage Educators, we field many inquiries from students and parents about this often intimidating and overwhelming subject. Here are our answers to the most commonly asked questions about SAT and ACT prep:
Which test should I take—the SAT or the ACT?
We recommend that students take a timed diagnostic SAT and then, if they wish, a timed diagnostic ACT at the beginning of the preparation period. Once we have the results of both tests, we determine which test the student should focus on. Because most of our students choose the SAT, we offer a number of classes geared toward that test. We also offer one-on-one prep options for both the SAT and ACT. Almost all four-year colleges will accept results from either test.
Is one test easier than the other?
The short answer is no. The ACT’s math section is more curriculum-based, while the SAT’s math section tends to focus more on logic and reasoning skills. The ACT includes a science section, while the SAT does not. The test formats also differ slightly, and students do tend to prefer one test or the other, but neither is objectively “easier.”
Should I sign up for a class or one-on-one prep?
For most students, a small class (of ten students or fewer) is the way to go. A good class will provide a strong, skills-based curriculum that also covers strategies for all sections of the test. It will use real test questions for homework and practice assignments and include multiple full-length practice tests. One-on-one prep is better for students who are much stronger in some areas of the test, who are already scoring well above the average on practice tests, who need more individualized attention and motivation, or who have especially busy schedules.
What should I do now to prep for these tests?
Freshman Year: It’s too early to worry about the SAT or ACT, but you should be developing your critical reading skills and building vocabulary by reading both in and out of school. Magazines like The New Yorker, Harpers, and The Atlantic contain long-form essays and book excerpts similar to those found on the SAT and ACT.
Sophomore Year: Continue to focus on schoolwork and to develop math and critical reading skills. Take the PSAT at school. (There’s no need to prep for this test in most cases.)
Junior Year: Take the PSAT at school once more—this year, you have the potential to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. More important, plan to take the SAT or ACT twice during your junior year. Select two test dates in the winter and/or spring and begin preparation approximately seven weeks prior to the first test date. In addition, be sure to reserve a separate test date for the SAT Subject Tests. Students who have taken Precalculus should plan to take the SAT Subject Test: Math Level 2 as well as at least one additional test. We recommend that students currently in Advanced Placement courses at school consider taking SAT Subject Tests in those subjects.
Senior Year: If you wish, take the SAT or ACT one more time in the fall. Then move on to focus on college applications!
SAT/ACT Prep Options: Winter/Spring 2014
- Beginning in January, Sage Educators will offer classes in preparation for the March 8, May 3, and June 7 SAT exams. Sage also offers one-on-one prep and private tutoring for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests.
- Weekly SAT classes highlight the specific skills and test-taking strategies that students need to know.
- Dedicated instructors are college graduates and full-time teachers at Sage.
- Detailed score reports allow instructors to pinpoint and address each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Sage’s proven SAT curriculum combines lessons and activities to thoroughly prepare students for every section of the test: Math, Writing, and Critical Reading.
- Included in each SAT class are 14 hours of Instructor Office Hours: time for students to meet with instructors, practice for the test, and have their questions answered.
- Sage students’ average score increase is 250 points, with increases as high as 500 points reported.
Sage Educators is a customized tutoring and test-prep center with offices in Mill Valley and Larkspur. Sage is a community of students and academic mentors—a fun, productive environment where kids in grades 3-12 can relax, focus, and thrive. For more information, call 415.388.7243 (Mill Valley) or 415.461.7243 (Larkspur), or visit www.SageEducators.com.