Don't Be Afraid of Standardized Tests
With Proper Planning and Preparation, the SAT and ACT Aren't that Hard
by Adaze Okoli, age 16
As I near the end of my sophomore year in high school, the idea of college is quickly becoming a reality. I beginning to learn more about the requirements I need to get into college. One of the key deciders of college admission is your standardized test scores.
Most accredited colleges and universities require all applicants to submit their scores on one of two tests: the ACT or the SAT.
The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is the more widely taken college admissions test. There are two SAT tests, the Reasoning test and the Subject test. The SAT Reasoning Test is made up of three parts: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Each section is scored on the basis of 800 points for a total of 2400. The Subject test is often used as a supplement to the SAT Reasoning Test. It gives you the opportunity to show colleges your strengths in various subjects. These subjects can include Literature, U.S. History, World History, Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and foreign languages. These tests are also scored on a scale of 800 points.
The other college admission test is the ACT (American College Testing). This test includes four parts: English, Math, Reading, and Science with an optional writing portion. Each of the four parts total 36 points, which are averaged to give an overall composite score.
The key to performing well on these standardized tests is practice. A majority of the content on the SAT and the ACT is covered in school, meaning you already know it. However, many students are unfamiliar with the format, and don’t know how to manage their time properly on the tests. That is why ample preparation is crucial.
A great opportunity to practice for the SAT is the PSAT/ NMSQT (Preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). This test is primarily offered to juniors, but freshmen and sophomores can also take it.
The PSAT tests students in the three subject areas covered on the SAT Reasoning test: Math, Critical Reading, and Writing. Each section is scored 80 points instead of 800, and is a good indication of how well you might do on the SAT.
In addition to practicing for the SAT, the PSAT also gives you the opportunity to be exposed to different colleges. On the PSAT there is an option to make your information public. By doing this, various colleges will send you information about their school. It is also an excellent way to gain recognition for your academic achievements. If you perform well on the PSAT there are several opportunities to be recognized. For example, as a student of Hispanic descent, you may qualify for the National Hispanic Recognition Program.
Preparing for these standardized tests is an important part of planning for college. Just like financial preparation and academic preparation, thinking about when and how to take these tests is part of what you have to do to successfully pursue college. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated or difficult as it all seems. These tests are not all that hard, you can study ahead of time, and you can take them over again if you don’t like your score.
So here is my advice to all high school students: learn about these tests, ask your school counselor for information, and then plan to take them.
Schedule a practice test or two first. Believe me, you’ll feel ready and confident.