increase SAT scores

Comparing SAT Scores to ACT Scores

Students that take both the SAT and ACT can compare scores to see which test they’re scoring higher on. Some students will find that they’re actually scoring higher on one test over the other. We recommend that students take official SAT and official ACT practice tests. This means, taking a test created by the College Board or the ACT. We offer full-length mock practice tests in a group setting. Students that take both a mock SAT and ACT, with us, will receive an individualized comparison chart. This document accompanies the student’s SAT and ACT baseline reports. We determine which test is better, SAT or ACT, by comparing scores using a concordance table. We also ask the student how he or she felt about the tests: pacing, timing, comfortability, testing format, question types, ACT science versus SAT no-calculator math, essay section, etc. 

The ideal time to take full-length practice SAT and ACT tests are fall of junior year. If the family can find time during the summer months, then the summer going into junior year works well too. Juniors usually take their first official test during the winter or spring. Once a test is decided upon, SAT or ACT, a customized test prep plan is put in place, based upon the student’s strengths and weaknesses. If an action plan is put together during the fall of junior year then the student can prep for an official winter or spring test. The amount of prep needed is determined by the difference in the student’s SAT or ACT scores, compared to the interested schools’ middle 50% SAT and ACT scores. In addition, test prep programs need to be catered to the individual and his or her academic background. Is remedial work needed for math or grammar? Does the student receive standardized testing accommodations? Is the student currently enrolled in Algebra II or Trigonometry (taking a spring test might be better)?  

By using the chart below, you can decide which test is better for you. 

SAT Scores Versus ACT Scores - Concordance

Find out how we can help decide which test to prep for! 

Determine Your Match Schools

Match schools make great choices because you'll be among peers who have academic abilities that are similar to your own. A match school is a college or university that is more than likely to admit the applicant as a student. The reason for this is because grades, along with ACT or SAT test scores, are similar to average students at the school. When applying to undergraduate institutions, it's important to choose schools wisely.  

Is the school a match for you? 
If you know your high school GPA, and you've taken either the ACT or SAT, it's simple to figure out if your GPA and ACT or SAT test scores are average for a specific school. There’s two ways for finding out this information:
Find schools that interest you and go to the admissions department page on their website. ACT and SAT data for matriculated students is usually posted. For most schools, the posted information represents the 25th and 75th percentile of students who enrolled. If your ACT or SAT scores are above the 25th percentile number, you're a possible match for the school. Though, the ultimate goal is to be at the middle 50th percentile. If you cannot find the data on the school’s website then give the admissions office a phone call. It doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone and ask! 

View a sample student body profile (Princeton University).

Your match school choices
You must understand that there is no guarantee of admission. Perhaps, many students with grades and ACT or SAT test scores similar to yours were offered a spot to attend next year. It’s very likely that students with comparable portfolios to yours were not admitted. This is a good reason to apply to safety schools. Try to have a few of these because it can be a shock to find out the spring of senior year that you've received nothing.

Top reasons for why you may not have been admitted to a match school:
•    The application was incomplete or had careless errors. 
•    You failed to show your interest in the school. 
•    The college has a holistic admissions process. Meaning, your essay or extracurricular activities weren't as impressive as other students.
•    You may have been knocked out by applicants who applied early action or early decision. 
•    Your letters of recommendation contradicted or drew suspicion compared to the rest of your application. 
•    The school wasn't able to meet family financial needs.
•    Many schools believe that a diverse student body benefits the campus environment.

Contact us if you need help determining your match schools.

Improving Test Scores

The key to improving test scores is to have the student take a full-length practice test. Based upon the results, a long-term plan is developed that involves practice assignments, timing drills, and additional full-length tests. The program is reassessed after each full-length practice test. This is why one-to-one is so effective. The tutor only works on the weaknesses for a specific student. The program is catered to the individual student and not a classroom of students. All of this takes place while leading up to the week of the test. It is not ideal to have gaps while prepping. 

Score improvement occurs after consistently practicing and learning concepts over a long period of time. Before starting a program, a full-length practice test is used as a baseline. The generated report reveals student strengths and weaknesses. For example, on the math section, the diagnostic report can reveal what the student has the most trouble with: radical equations, quadratic equations, slope, linear equations, distance, midpoint, etc.

In addition to knowing fundamental concepts, the student will need to know how to approach certain types of questions:

Know the Test – The first step to any prep program is to ensure the student knows the test. This consists of the following: timing for each section, number of questions, directions for each section, overall format, how the test and certain sections are scored, etc. Being aware of these will eliminate surprises and reduce test day anxiety. Most tests in high school classes are usually an hour long. ACT/SAT tests are new to most students and they usually don’t take tests at this length.

Pacing – Managing time is extremely important. Students may know the answer to every question, but only make it half-way through each section. Through administering hundreds of practice tests, we’ve seen this to be common. Students should plan on not getting stuck on every single question. Move on if a question stumps you. Regardless of the difficultly level, all questions are worth the same (except the new SAT will have an extended math thinking question). On the opposite hand, there are also those that rush and who do not recheck their work; even when there is ten to fifteen minutes left on the clock.   

Write, Bubble, and Erase – Each student can control his or her answer. Make sure to bubble clearly when answering. Also, be sure to erase all of an answer. These mistakes are normally careless errors. If a question is skipped on the current SAT, make sure not to bubble in that skipped space for the next question. Knowing where you are on your answer sheet is important. If you do skip a question, put a star next to it and skip it on your answer sheet. You can go back to it if there is time and it helps to remind you that you skipped that question. Always use a No. 2 pencil and write your essay as legibly as you can. The essay should be written on the lines only. The readers won’t see anything in the extra space margins.   

Make an Educated Guess – The student should answer every question on the ACT and new SAT. On the current SAT, the student needs to choose whether to skip or guess. There is a ¼ point penalty for answering incorrectly on the current SAT. Usually, students should guess on easy to medium questions, if they can eliminate two answers. For more difficult questions, students need to try and eliminate three answers before guessing. Using process of elimination will help narrow down answer choices.

With plenty of practice, students can be prepared to excel on test day!