BY HASHEM ANABTAWI, ‘15
They are known by simple abbreviations. The two tests that colleges look at, alongside all other achievements that decide a student’s admittance. These standardized tests, the ACT and the SAT, are lengthy exams that each student must take for acceptance into a college; however, some colleges only require one of them. With a few tips from experts and those who have beat the standardized stress, anyone can do well the first time, and improve their scores the next, according to sophomore Language Arts teacher Matt Toohey.
The ACT, or the American College Test, is designed to test students over common school material, with 215 questions in 3 hours and 25 minutes. The test has four sections: English, Math, Science Reasoning and Reading along with one optional essay section. For the 2013-14 school year, there are three tests remaining for registration.
The SAT, or the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is created to test students over reasoning and verbal abilities, including 140 questions with a mandatory essay in 3 hours and 45 minutes. It includes three sections: Critical Reading, Math and Writing, according to the SAT College Board website.
Although the SAT has a longer duration, it tests less subjects in multiple sections, with each section ranging between 10 and 25 minutes, with 50 to 70 questions. The ACT, on the other hand, tests more subjects with one section per subject, each ranging from 35 to 60 minutes, with 40 to 75 questions each.
Toohey explains which test best suits students, since most colleges don’t require scores from both.
“If you are a better reader and have a strong reading comprehension, take the ACT,” Toohey said. “If you’re a better test taker and you don’t get through the readings on the ACT, then I recommend focusing on the SAT because it’s full of grammatical terms and tricks to memorize.”
Senior Minjia Tang explains what she did to start easing the stress of the SAT.
“I took a few classes with lessons on writing prompts and a few math tips,” Tang said.
When OSU raised its standards for admissions, the need to take the tests raised as well. According to the Family Connection’s website, the average ACT score for acceptance of UA students is a 30 out of 36.
For those who have already been admitted to OSU, this is a relief. But for those like junior Miranda Ross, who are continuing to study, the number only adds more pressure.
“The fact that OSU has raised its standards definitely scares me,” Ross said. “I will continue to work with my [prep] books and possibly hire a private tutor if needed.”
Toohey also explained useful ways to prepare using any resources available.
“A good book to have is 1100 Words You Need to Know, on top of practice books and tests with explanations for the answers,” Toohey said. “I always say, ‘Be in the mind of the test maker, not the test taker.’”
Although Ross has been studying diligently, she is still worried about the upcoming ACT test.
“As a junior, I’m trying to get a baseline to know where my weaknesses are and then go from there to get the best score I can,” Ross said. “I’m not incredibly stressed yet but I want to use the time I have to prepare wisely and always put forth my best effort on the test.”
Senior Fatema Elmasry waited until her senior year to take the ACT. Regardless, she developed a useful strategy to maximize her score.
“I took about 15 practice tests. By doing this you can build your strategy because the questions are always the same, you pretty much know what they’re going to ask but in different words,” Elmasry said.
Although the tests are stressful, the majority of students have to take them. Whether it is the subject-heavy ACT or the time-stressing SAT, Toohey believes studying hard and taking tips from the experts can only lead to success.