Frequently Asked SAT & ACT Questions: (1 of 2)

April 10, 2019 

Got questions? A+ Test Prep has answers!

The college application process is always changing. Even if your family has already navigated the admissions waters, it’s good to make sure your information is up-to-date. By popular request, here are a few A+ SAT and ACT FAQs.

  1. Can A+ guarantee a good score? A guarantee that you will achieve a certain score on the SAT or ACT simply is not possible. Textbooks available in bookstores or on websites often advertise “PASSING SCORE GUARANTEED!” for marketing purposes. Look closer and you’ll find a qualifying phrase such as “….or buyer is entitled to a free book.”


  1. If I take multiple tests, can colleges see all my scores? According to College Board, “you can choose which scores to send by test date for the SAT. Scores from an entire SAT are sent.” What you cannot do is “send your Math score from one test day and your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score from another test day.” However, some colleges “superscore,” looking at the highest Math score and highest Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score from all the tests you submit. states that, “we will release only the record from the test date you request… you may not select test scores from different test dates to construct a new record.”  The bottom line here is that you should wait until all of your scores are in before deciding which scores to send to colleges. So don’t list any colleges to have scores sent to when registering for an exam. Even though you can list up to four colleges, and there is no charge for these four “free” reports, it’s better to wait until after all scores are in so you have control of which scores you want to share with colleges.


  1. Which is better, the SAT or the ACT? Neither is “better.” Until recently, which test one decided to take was based on geography more than anything else: East and West Coast students traditionally took the SAT, while students in the Midwest and parts of the South took the ACT. A+ free practice proctored tests can help determine which test better showcases your abilities.


  1. How many times can I take the test? There is no maximum limit to the number of times you can take either the SAT or the ACT. However, most students take the official SAT or ACT two or three times. In general, we recommend taking as many practice exams, especially proctored exams, which are given under the same time constraints as the actual exams, as possible. Given that amount of practice, students shouldn’t have to sit for the actual exam more than three or four times at most. And of course, to a large degree, this decision is informed by your scores. Once you get the scores you need, there is no reason to schedule more tests.


  1. How important is it to do the essay? Fewer and fewer colleges are either requiring or recommending that students do the essay portion of either the SAT or the ACT. In fact, no Pennsylvania colleges are asking for it, and in the mid-Atlantic region only the SUNY colleges and the service academies, West Point and The Naval Academy, recommend submitting it. However, as with everything college-related, make sure to check each college’s website to find out its specific testing requirements.


  1. What about the SAT Subject Tests? Subject tests are not quite as relevant as they used to be. Check with your school counselor or the admissions departments of colleges you are interested in all the same. Schools differ. MIT requires them. Princeton and Stanford recommend, but do not require them. Temple University does neither. Penn State does not require or recommend subject tests but suggests that students check individual program specifications.


  1. What is the difference between the AP Exam and a Subject Test? The website Ivy Bound succinctly contrasts these two tests. In a nutshell, the AP tests require “a deeper understanding of the subject.” This is, in part, because AP exams contain a written answer section, while SAT subject tests are 100% multiple choice. The same site notes that schools “occasionally use the AP score for admission purposes” but more commonly for placement after acceptance. In contrast to SAT Subject Tests, which may be required (see above), AP Exams are never required.


  1. What is superscoring? Superscoring, according to College Board, lets schools “see and consider the highest section scores consistently and fairly across all applicants.” When a student takes a test multiple times, the school will see all scores, but only select the highest scores in each section. Superscoring, while becoming more common, is not yet standard at all colleges and universities. Check with admissions!

If you do not see the information you need here, just contact our Client Service Directors. Anne Stanley and Susan Ware can be reached at 215-886-9188. Also, look out for our second FAQ article, coming out soon!

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject.


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