Friday 8th September 2023
ACT Test Date 1
Friday 27th October 2023
ACT Test Date 2
Saturday 9th December 2023
ACT Test Date 3
Saturday 10th February 2024
ACT Test Date 4
Friday 12th April 2024
ACT Test Date 5
Friday 7th June 2024
ACT Test Date 6
Friday 12th July 2024
ACT Test Date 7
Friday 31st May 2024
Friday 3rd May 2024
Saturday 9th March 2024
Friday 25th August 2023
SAT Test Date 1
Friday 6th October 2023
SAT Test Date 2
Saturday 4th November 2023
SAT Test Date 3
Saturday 2nd December 2023
SAT Test Date 4
The SAT and ACT are an important entrance exam required for college admission in the United States, and students work hard to achieve good scores. It is one of the factors that colleges and universities may consider in their admission process, alongside other factors such as high school GPA, extracurricular activities, essays and letters of recomendation.
The importance of the SAT or ACT score in college admission can vary depending on the school and the program a student applies to. Somecolleges emphasize standardized test scores and use them as a primary factor in their admission decisions. A high SAT or ACT score can demonstrate a student'sacademic abilities and potential for success in college-level coursework. It can also make them more competitive for admission and scholarships.
Preparing for the ACT and SAT is more than just knowing the material, but also understanding how it will be asked of you, how much time you have to answer, and how often the test will ask certain questions.
The ACT is 3 hours long (technically 2 hours and 55 minutes). Including breaks, the exam takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. The ACT has a total of 215 questions with 1 optional essay. If you sign up for the optional essay the test clocks in at 3 hours and 40 minutes or just over 4 hours with breaks. It is scored out of 36 points (your raw score will be converted into this scaled score - see the scoring section below).
All questions are multiple choice apart from the optional essay. The ACT has four sections, sometimes called subject areas:
The ACT math section is 60 minutes long, with 60 questions total – so you’ll have just one minute to complete each question (each question is worth one mark). You’ll definitely have to work quickly if you want to answer each one! Every question is multiple choice, and there is no penalty for guessing.
|Component||Time Allotted||Number of Questions|
|Writing (optional)||40 mins||1 essay|
|Total||175 mins (215 mins with writing)||215 questions + 1 essay|
Pacing and problem solving are the big challenges on the ACT math section. Pacing is tricky because you have to answer questions as quickly as possible without losing accuracy. In addition, you have to be able to quickly identify ways to solve problems. This is why studying specifically for ACT math is so important, since it requires you to work faster and more strategically than you have to in math class.
You need to be able to problem solve, or use what the ACT calls using reasoning abilities. In addition, the math questions are not ordered by topic, so you need to be prepared to quickly switch between topics like statistics, algebra, and geometry.
The maths content breakdown is as follows:
See my topic list for a detailed list of topics.
Don’t bring a brand-new calculator on the day. Bring one you know. Practice for the test using the same calculator you’ll use on test day, so that you are familair with it.
You're not required to use a calculator, meaning all problems on the ACT can be solved without one. Calculators will make your life much easier though and speed things up for you. Be careful not to rely too much on your calculator if you use one, as it can actually slow you down. If what you're trying to do with your graphing calculator is NOT doable on a scientific calculator, you are likely overusing your calculator. Remember that the worst calculator is an unfamiliar calculator.
You can use a calculator, but it has to be a permitted one. Students love the basic scientific calculator Casio fx-300MS. It's a very simple calculator and all teachers will let you use it for exams that allow calculators, so you can get a lot of practice using this calculator. Make sure the calculator you decide to use gives fraction answer, not just decimals.
Scientific calculators have drawbacks though. I always advise students to get the graphing calculator TI-83 or TI-84. It is one of the most powerful calculators allowed elthough not mandatory. It has much way more functionality that most other calculators (and is more expensive as well). It also gives you answers back in fractions and "rationalized" format. The equation solver is also pretty helpful - it solves quadratics and simultaneous equations for you.
Casio FX-CG50 is also popular and allowed.
The following calculators are prohibited:
Unlike with the the SAT, you’re not given a reference sheet, so you have to know basic maths formula such as the equation of a line, area formulae, the quadratic formulae etc (see the formula sheet provided for a comprehensive list).
You're given a point for every question you get right (there's no penalty or point deduction for wrong answers). The total number of questions you get right on each of the 4 sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) equals your raw score and hence the number of questions is the maximum raw score for each section. Say in the math test you got 45 questions right, 12 wrong, and left 3 blank. Your raw math score would be 45.
Each of the raw score from each of the 4 subject areas is then given a scaled score between 1 and 36 (36 is the maxium scaled score for each section). The reason the ACT (as well as other standardized tests) uses scaled scores is to make sure their scores are consistent across multiple test dates. Scaling is not curving your score relative to the scores of other students who take the test the same day as you. What scaling does is analyze average scores for each version of the ACT to ensure that not test date is easier or harder than another. However, the process of scaling means that on different editions of the ACT, raw scores can translate to scaled scores differently. In other words, these numbers aren’t set in stone, but they can give you an idea of what raw score to shoot for on each section.
Your raw scores are converted into scaled scores (on the 1-36 scale for each section) using a table, which changes for every ACT test date. The reason that the table changes is to ensure each test is standardized; in other words, it accounts for differences in content difficulty. The table is used to equate easier ACT tests to harder ACT tests. For this reason, on one test date, if you got a raw score of 39 in Science (either by answering a question incorrectly or skipping one), your scaled score in Science could drop to 34. However, on another day, the conversion from raw to scaled score might be more lenient, and a raw score of 39 in Science could be a perfect 36 scaled score. You won't know what the raw to scaled score conversion will be in advance. While the exact conversion varies by test date the following table is a good guide:
|Scaled Score||Raw Score|
So now we know that you get a score of between 1 and 36 for each subject area, which is converted from your raw score. But how do those four area scores combine to your final composite score which also ranges between 1 and 36?
Your composite score is simply the average of your four area scores, rounded up to the nearest whole number (half a point or more is rounded up, less than half a point is rounded down). For example, say you got a 24 on the Math section, 23 on Science, 26 on Reading, and 25 on English. Your composite score would be:
(24 + 23 + 26 + 25) / 4 = 24.5
This would be rounded up to 25.
In addition to your main composite score and your four subject area scores, the ACT also gives you subscores in three of the four subject areas. English, Math, and Reading all have subscores, which give you more information about your strengths and weaknesses in each subject. Subscores range from 1 to 18, and they are also scaled from your raw score. However, there is no direct relationship between your subscores and your final scaled score(for example, your subscores do not add up to your scaled score). Your subscore just gives you more information about your performance and where you might want to improve.
For Math the subscores are given for
Should you worry about these? No. Colleges care most about your composite score on the ACT, and they will also look at your four subject area scores. However, you can use the ACT’s subscores to help you prepare for the test since they break the subject areas down into manageable categories.
The ACT did actually go through some changes back in 2014. There's a different focus on different aspects in math and the score breakdown for all 4 tests are completely different. The types of questions and overall feel and topics of the test have changed.
ACT has not changed as drastically as SAT though and ACT has pretty much stayed the same and will continue to do so. However, I recommend stickinig with and doing more recent tests (2015 onwards).
In the math section, the topics have expanded and which topics they emphasize have shifted. There are more probability and statistics questions than their used to be.
In addition, the level of difficulty has increased. Harder questions appear earlier in the test than they used to. The scaling has adjusted accordingly, but some students find their timing affected and don’t score as well.
Know the topics that are going to come on the test. They will be more or less the same as the ones on the 2016-2022 SATs. Also, have a practice math for 1 hour straight. Most of the students get tired at the end of the test and start making stupid mistakes and the increasing question's difficulty just adds petrol to the fire. One trick you can apply to avoid this is that you can first complete the last 20 questions of the test. They are most difficult ones and if you do them first hand with a relatively fresh mind then you have less chance of making silly mistakes in them later on. However, while using this technique be careful of how you mark your scantron paper. One mistake there and your whole section will be a piece of garbage.
Since the ACT is averaged, not totaled, and there are four sections, you can "hide" a weak section more easily than on the SAT, which has three sections and totals your score. For example, say you struggle with math and got the following subject area scores on the ACT:
While you might think your math score is going to drag down your composite, since it is only one-fourth of your score, its effect isn’t huge:
(30 + 31 + 29 + 22) / 4 = 28
So, even though your math score was a lot lower than the other three sections, you still come out with a 28 (which is a 90th percentile score).
While we are not recommending you don’t study for a certain section because it’s only one-fourth of your total ACT score, it is helpful to know that each subject area’s score will not make or break your composite.
Since there is no guessing penalty on the ACT, the best way to maximize your score is to eliminate wrong answer choices and guess. We are not saying to rush through each section in order to answer every single question – as we saw above, you might have a target raw score that’s much lower than the total points possible. In that case, it makes sense to spend more time focusing on fewer questions. What this means is that if you do spend time on a question, even if you are not totally sure of the answer, it’s the best use of your time to eliminate some answer choices to give yourself the best shot at guessing the right answer.
Furthermore, when the proctor says there is one minute remaining, go ahead and bubble every blank answer you have remaining. Even if you haven't looked at the question in the book, you aren't losing anything by guessing. You might pick up a raw point or two on each section this way, which can have a surprising effect on your scaled score, as we have seen
Top Univeristy Requirements:
Scools vary considerably in the kinds of ACT scores they look for in applicants. Less selective institutions tend to accept scores closer to the national average (21) whereas more competitive universities often prefer scores in the 32-36 range.
A score of 32 on the ACT exam is a great score and means that the students is well-rounded and has achieved exceotional score in different exam sections. A 32 ACT score easily puts a student in the league of high performance scorers, which significantly enhances their chance of being accepted into one of the top universities in the country.
Different universities have different admission standards, and any score above or at their cut-off may be considered a good score. For example, some unis require a min score of 30 for admission, while some other require a higher score. Therefore, students should review their chosen university's requirements to determine whether thwie 32 ACT score is good enough for admission.
Besides admission, a score of 32 on the ACT can open doors to scholarship opportunities. A high ACT score may make a student eligible for academic scholarships orlead to an increase in their financial award packages at universities. This could be the factor that makes a difference in competing for scholarships, making it vitalfor students to strive for the highest ACT scores.
In conclusion, a score of 32 on the ACT exam is a good score, placing students above the average test taker. It signifies that a student is intelligent, dedicated,and understands the exam's content. A high ACT score of 32 can lead to various educational opportunities, including admissions and scholarship opportunities atreputable universities, making it crucial for students striving for academic excellence.
Many students take the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year, and then again in the fall of their senior year to improve their score.
The SAT is offered nationally seven times each year, in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December, usually on a Saturday.
Every SAT administration has a regular registration deadline and a late registration deadline. The regular deadline is roughly four weeks before the test date and the late deadline is about two weeks before the test date. There’s an extra fee for late registrations (unless you're using an SAT fee waiver) so we recommend that you register as early as possible to avoid fees. Also, the later you register, the less choices you'll have for your testing location and/or date combination.
The SAT last three hours and has 154 questions which contains three sections:
The maths section is as follows:
Although most of the questions on the Math Test are multiple choice, 22% are student-produced response questions, also known as grid-ins. Instead of choosing a correct answer from a list of options, you'll need to solve problems and enter your answers in the grids provided on the answer sheet.
The SAT is scored out of 1600 points (your raw score will be converted into this scaled score - see the scoring section below).
|Component||Time Allotted||Number of Questions|
|Writing and Language||35 mins||44|
80 mins (25 mins non calc and 55 mins calc)
58 (20 non calc and 38 calc)
Note: There used to be an optional essay (liek the ACT still has), but this portion of the SAT became optional in 2016. Many students still chose to write it to demonstrate strong or improved writing skills to prospective colleges, however in June 2021, the College Board opted to discontinue the SAT essay.
Unlike with ACT, you do get some equations on test day of the SAT. The SAT provides a Reference Sheet with each of the two math sections on the test. I don’t recommend you spend too much time committing these formulas to memory; however, you do need to be familiar with these equations. In other words, if you have no clue how to use these equations, it does you no good to get them for “free” on test day. The SAT is giving them to you because the reality is, they want to test your ability to use the equations, not your ability to memorize them. So make sure you know how and when to use them! That’s really important. If you don’t know how to use the equations, you’re doing yourself no good to memorize them at all!
Among these two sections of the test, SAT math covers 4 main topics:
Some of the skills required to answer the no calculator questions include:
Don’t bring a brand-new calculator in on the day. Bring one you know. Practice for the test using the same calculator you’ll use on test day, so that you are familiar with it.
The SAT is less strict than the ACT with which calculators are not allowed. Most clacualtors are permitted except ones whicg have a computer-style (QWERTY) keypad, pen input, or stylus.
Remember, there is also a part of the maths test which is non calculator and you will not be allowed ot use your calculator.
You're given a point for every question you get right (there's no penalty or point deduction for wrong answers).
The SAT has two big sections for scoring:
Your raw score is simply the number of questions you answered correctly and hence the number of questions is the maximum raw score for each section. The scaled score is converted from the raw score you earn on each of the 2 sections. You can earn a scaled score of between 200 and 800 points on each section, for a total of 1600 possible points on the SAT. It is scored on a 200 to 800 scale in each section in 10-point increments. This relatively small scale means that small improvements in your score can make a big difference in your percentile rank (sometimes, a 10-point increase in your score can boost your percentile rank by 5 points).
The reason the SAT (as well as other standardized tests) uses scaled scores is to make sure their scores are consistent across multiple test dates. Scaling is not curving your score relative to the scores of other students who take the test the same day as you. What scaling does is analyze average scores for each version of the SAT to ensure that not test date is easier or harder than another. However, the process of scaling means that on different editions of the SAT, raw scores can translate to scaled scores differently. In other words, these numbers aren’t set in stone, but they can give you an idea of what raw score to shoot for on each section.
Your raw scores are converted into scaled scores (on the 200-800 scale for both sections) using a table, which changes for every SAT test date. The reason that the table changes is to ensure each test is standardized; in other words, it accounts for differences in content difficulty. The table is used to equate easier SAT tests to harder SAT tests.
To calculate your maths score:
While the exact conversion varies by test date the following table is a good guide:
|Scaled Score||Raw Score|
Finding your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scaled score is a bit trickier than finding your Math score, since you have to combine your performance on the Reading and Writing sections. This will not be listed here, since this is a Math website.
Top Univeristy Requirements:
You’ll want to look at the SAT averages for the schools you’ll apply to. Different universities have different admission standards, and any score above or at their cut-off may be considered a good score. For the Ivy League, competitive scores range between 1500-1550. For other highly competitive schools, it's above 1400
The SAT also gives you a number of subscores: two that rate your ability in different subjects (History/Social Studies and Science), and seven that break down the Math, Reading, and Writing sections into more specific skills.
The SAT changing its format is nothing new and happens almost every decade.
The last significant redesign of the SAT was in 2016 when the exam went from its 2400-point format back to 1600 points and students were no longer penalised for wrong answers. The changes were as follows
There is an upcoming SAT makeover which is the most significant change yet. College Board, the entity that carries out the SAT exam, recently announced that the standardised test will be undergoing a major makeover from 2024 onwards. SAT will move from a pen-and-paper mode to 100% digitised. In addition to moving to a digital format, the exam length will be shorter, the reading passages will be easier, and the test questions will be more adaptive.The SAT will be almost an hour shorter in time in 2024.
This huge change will occur in 2023 for internationals and 2024 for US students.
You might be wondering why the change to digital? There are reasons
So, if you’re prepping for the SAT now, this most likely won’t affect you (unless you’re really getting a head start). Because most students don’t take the SAT until their junior year of high school, we can expect the first set of students to experience the new test to be the class or 2025. If you’re interested in reading more about the changes to the format of the test.
Since there is a non-calcualtor portion of the new SAT math section, you need to be prepared to do math without a calculator! Practice lots of mental maths and make sure you're sharp on your basic math skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying and diviiding - including for fractions too). Also, make sure you know some common square roots and square numbers.
Practice makes perfect! Practice a lot in general. For the non calculator section, realistic practice makes perfect! Make sure you do every SAT practice test available. Don't use your calculator on the non-calculator section and see how you do! To get really good at your mental math you must stick to the real testing conditions.
Spend most of your study time on algebra and also get familiar with the advanced topics.
Although the changes to the new SAT math section might feel major, they're actually relatively subtle. There has been a slight shift in the material covered, which means there needs to be a shift in how much time you spend studying certain math topics. The questions asked are generally more straightforward than those on the previous SAT math. The major changes to maths are
Change your study strategy by:
All SAT tests below are good practice, even the old ones pre 2016! Make sure you complete the latest ones first though and then if you have no more to practice, do all the older papers too!
The best way to combat mental exhaustion is by practice. There is no fool proof method to stop your brain from being exhausted when taking the SAT. But with practice and studying, you can get more comfortable with the test and work around your mental exhaustion to a degree. The easiest way to get there isn’t by repeatedly taking practice tests. Instead, try to employ deliberate practice. Figure out which problems are most challenging for you (maybe the reading section?) and just practice that until it’s second nature.
What are you waiting for? It's time to get started!