Frequently Asked Questions
To sign up for the SAT or for specific questions, please visit the College Board site (College Board is the company that administers the SAT test).
What’s the difference between the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT?
They both can be quite different. Some students are more successful in one test than the other, that is why we recommend that students take both. The SAT Reasoning Test is composed of three sections: Writing, Math and Critical Reading. The ACT is composed of five sections (if you add Writing, which is required for UC and CSU admission): Writing, English, Reading, Science Reasoning and Math. So, for the SAT Reasoning Test, Math is about 1/3 of the test, while in the ACT Math is only about 1/5. Also the SAT has a correction for guessing. That is, they take off for wrong answers. The ACT is scored based on the number correct with no correction for guessing.
Moreover, the SAT assesses how well you analyze and solve problems. This is why some people argue that the SAT is good at predicting how well a student will do in college. However, it is also argued that questions on the ACT are more modeled after questions that you would actually see in your high school classes – that’s why they call it an achievement test. It is said that high school adequately prepares students for the ACT but not the SAT.
It is recommended that students take both the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT because you never know which test you’ll score the best in. But even if you take the ACT, you still have to take two SAT Subject Tests.
How do I qualify for a fee waiver?
Your EAOP representatives or your high school counselor can determine if you qualify for a fee waiver for the SAT as well as for the UC application. You can also apply for a fee waiver online for the SAT and the UC application. Depending on your parents’ income and the number of people in the household you may qualify for a fee waiver. The UC application fee waiver also allows you apply to four UC campuses for FREE (this can be a $220 value), so it’s worth a shot to see if you qualify.
When is the best time to take the SAT?
May and June of your junior year tends to be the best time to take the SAT Reasoning Test and/or Subject Tests. Hopefully by the end of your junior year you have finished (or you’re close to finishing) Algebra II and the material is still fresh in your mind. These dates also leave you time to take the test(s) over again if you want in October, November and December of your senior year. The absolute last chance you have to take the SAT is December of your senior year. But always remember that you can take the ACT Plus Writing in place of the SAT Reasoning Test (they are always offered on different Saturdays).
The downside to the May and June test dates is that these tests are around the same time as prom and the end of school. If you feel that juggling all the dates and deadlines at the end of your junior year will be too much for you, take the tests in January and/or March. But just watch out because you must register for them 5-6 weeks in advance.