UNDERSTANDING PSAT AND PreACT RESULTS FOR SOPHOMORE AND JUNIOR PARENTS
DR. JED APPLEROUTH
APPLEROUTH TUTORING, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT
- Understanding and using PSAT and PreACT results
- A look into the SAT and ACT
- How to plan college admissions testing
Jed Applerouth is a teacher and an educational innovator. A Nationally Certified Counselor with a PhD in Educational Psychology, Jed has researched student cognition, memory, motivation, and learning strategies to enhance the pedagogical strategies of Applerouth Tutoring Services.
Knowing that different students will follow different testing plans, the following is general information and advice about testing during the junior year.
Which test should I take, SAT or ACT?
Ideally, all members of the Class of 2020 should plan to take at least one ACT and one SAT before the beginning of senior year. However, if you have already established a clear preference for one test or the other, OR a test prep expert has given you credible advice that your strengths lend themselves to one test over the other, it’s fine to focus your efforts there.
Note - when registering for the ACT or SAT all Weber students should always include the optional Writing assessment of the exam. While some colleges do not require the Writing portion of the test, many do for the test score to be considered official.
As stated above, I like to see a score from both the ACT and SAT, and all colleges give equal consideration to both. Test prep experts have determined that a quarter of students will prefer the ACT, a quarter will prefer the SAT, and half of all students will have no real preference. If there is a preference established, we typically have the student concentrate on that test the rest of the way. Over the past few years I’ve seen a general increase in ACT scores and a significant increase in students around the country focusing on that test. However, the SAT has undergone significant revisions in the past few years which may result in movement back towards that being the more prevalent test.
How many times should I take the SAT or ACT?
There is no perfect formula to how many tests you should take. In my experience most students show score increases as they become more familiar with the test format, so sitting for at least two administrations of an SAT or ACT before senior year often makes sense. And many students see their best scores come during a test administration taken during the senior year. So, depending on your college goals, your academic performance, and other factors, most students should also plan on taking at least one SAT or ACT next fall. That said, if you already have a score that you and your college advisor agree reflects your best ability and is within the profile of the colleges to which you’re applying, you may only need to take one SAT or ACT.
What are the differences between the SAT and ACT?
In the past there were some pretty significant differences between the SAT and the ACT. However, the recent redesign of the SAT eliminated many of the differences. The one major difference that does seem to still be a distinction between the two tests is that the ACT is more a test of speed - there are more questions in roughly the same amount of time. But, we’re often told that the questions seem less complicated on the ACT, so you can move faster.
Should I take Subject Tests?
The majority of students applying to college will not need to take Subject Tests. At last count, fewer than 10 colleges still require the SAT Subject Tests, although a number of selective colleges still recommend them or will consider scores in the admission process. Subject Tests are typically taken in May and June of the junior year. Those students who are considering applying to highly selective colleges are encouraged to consider taking these tests. Much more information about subject tests, including the most up-to-date information about which colleges require them, can be found here - https://www.compassprep.com/subject-test-requirements-and-recommendations/
What about test prep?
For most students, taking some test prep will lead to higher scores and increased familiarity with the test format. What that prep looks like - whether it’s a self-directed online course, one-on-one tutoring, or a larger prep class - depends on the needs of the individual student. When students should engage in test prep is also going to also depend on the student. I think it is fine for students to take their first SAT and ACT without any prep at all in order to get a baseline assessment of strengths and weaknesses. However some students prefer to prepare before taking the tests.
Please keep sports schedules, play rehearsals, family expectations, Weber events and trips, and all manner of obligations in mind when scheduling standardized tests. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns about standardized testing.
See the following links for a complete list testing dates and registration deadlines:
Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC)
HOPE and ZELL
- GSFC will calculate each student’s GPA once a final transcript is submitted after graduation.
- Transcripts through first semester of the senior year are submitted at the end of February. A preliminary GPA is calculated by GSFC at that time.
- You can access your HOPE GPA after that first calculation by creating a GAFutures account at gafutures.org.
- Students should create their account. You do not need a Georgia Testing Identification Number to complete this online account/application.
Continue to look for merit scholarship opportunities at the colleges and universities where you are applying. Deadlines are different for all, so careful browsing of the college and university web sites is a good idea.
Be wary of any organization or company that charges a fee. A good rule of thumb is to avoid scholarship programs and scholarship search programs that charge any type of fee, including an application fee.
The Financial Aid tab in the Common Application also has resources for scholarships. Log in to your Common Application account for more details.
IMPORTANT APPLICATION INFORMATION
FAFSA is for federal financial aid
CSS Profile is for institutional aid (grants, merit aid)
If you’re applying Early Decision, and you intend to apply for financial aid, confirm if the college or university requires the CSS Profile. Both of these forms are available and can be completed early in the application process. For the FAFSA, please be aware that you can use prior tax year information.