SAT & ACT Resources

Our resources page will help answer common questions about the ACT and SAT as well as inform you of the process and structure.

What is the SAT?

The SAT is a standardized college admissions exam administered by the College Board. It is used by colleges and universities across the United States to gauge the academic potential of students who apply for admission.

When is the SAT administered, and how can I register to take it? Is there a limit to the number of times I can sit for the exam?

The SAT is administered 7 times per year. Here are the 2017-2018 national test dates and registration deadlines:

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
October 7, 2017 September 8, 2017 September 27, 2017
November 4, 2017 October 5, 2017 October 25, 2017
December 2, 2017 November 2, 2017 November 21, 2017
March 10, 2018 February 9, 2018 February 28, 2018
May 5, 2018 April 6, 2018 April 25, 2018
June 2, 2018 May 3, 2018 May 23, 2018
August 2018 - TBA TBA TBA
Bold indicate QAS test date
The Question and Answer Service for the SAT (QAS) and Test Information Release for the ACT (TIR) allow students to order a copy of the exam questions they saw on test day. These can be used for review to prepare for subsequent exams. (Note: students cannot expect to receive the QAS or TIR before the next scheduled exam.)

SAT Registration

To register to take the SAT, you must create an account on the College Board website. Note that while your home school may not administer the exam on your desired test date, you may register to take the exam at another school close by.

State Contracts

Also note that in some cases your state may contract with the College Board to administer the SAT to all high school juniors at no direct cost to you. These “school day” tests are administered on dates apart from the national test dates. Contact your school’s counseling department to learn whether your school offers this option.

Is there a limit?

While there is no limit to the number of times you can take the SAT, most students will achieve their highest scores after taking the test two or three times. Taking the test after this point is usually not a productive use of time.

Girl on laptop

Does it make a difference whether I take the SAT or the ACT? How do I know which one I should take?

For most students, no: colleges and universities across the US recognize both exams as equals during the admissions process. You will not disadvantage yourself by opting to take one of the exams and not the other; nor will you gain an advantage by submitting scores from both exams.

The best way to determine which test is better for you is to take a full-length diagnostic practice exam for each test. You can then compare the results using a concordance table.

Girl in pink in class

What is the structure of the SAT, and how is it scored?

The SAT comprises four sections: Reading (65 minutes, 52 questions), Writing & Language (35 minutes, 44 questions), Math – No Calculator (25 minutes, 20 questions), and Math – Calculator (55 minutes, 38 questions). You can also choose whether to take the optional Essay (50 minutes). The sections are always administered in the same order. Most questions on the test feature multiple choice answer options; however, the Math sections feature a total of 13 “student-produced response”, or “grid-in”, questions, for which students must provide answers they compute without having choices available.

The SAT provides two scores on a 200-800 point scale: one combined score for the Reading and Writing & Language sections (known as the “Evidence-Based Reading & Writing” score), and another combined score for the two Math sections. Thus, the total score range for the SAT is the sum of these scores on a 400-1600 scale. Your score report also provides a number of subscores that distinguish your performance in more specific areas.

The essay score is entirely separate from the 400-1600 score, and does not affect your section scores at all. Instead, your essay is graded using three scores on a scale of 0-8. These scores are not summed, but are reported as individual numbers out of 8.

What content does the SAT test?

The SAT tests the content learned and skills developed over many years of students’ academic paths. These include:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Understanding of main ideas, author's intent, word usage, rhetorical devices, and structure in the context of large passages
  • Grasp of English grammar, sentence structure, efficiency, and writing conventions
  • Algebra I and II, geometry, and trigonometry
  • Writing skills (if you choose to write the Essay)

Should I prepare for the SAT? How much time should I spend doing so?

Absolutely. Contrary to what many people think, the SAT is not a test of IQ (general intelligence); rather, it is standardized, and is thus predictable. There is usually a strong correlation between the amount of effort you put into preparing for the SAT and your performance on the test.

That said, the amount of preparation necessary will be different for each student. The amount of time you spend will depend on your starting scores, your goal scores, and your ability to work prep into your busy schedule.

How can I prepare for the SAT?

We’ve got you covered. With prep options available for students of every ability level and for every budget, Method Test Prep can help you succeed on the SAT. Check out our options below!

What is the ACT?

The ACT is a standardized college admissions exam administered by ACT, Inc. It is used by colleges and universities across the United States to gauge the academic potential of students who apply for admission.

When is the ACT administered, and how can I register to take it? Is there a limit to the number of times I can sit for the exam?

The ACT is administered 7 times per year. Here are the 2017-2018 national test dates and registration deadlines.

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration
September 9, 2017 August 4, 2017 August 18, 2017
October 28, 2017 September 22, 2017 October 6, 2017
December 9, 2017 November 3, 2017 November 17, 2017
February 10, 2018* January 12, 2018 January 19, 2018
April 14, 2018 March 9, 2018 March 23, 2018
June 9, 2018 May 4, 2018 May 18, 2018
July 14, 2018* June 15, 2018 June 22, 2018
* Not offered in NY State. Bold indicate TIR test date
The Question and Answer Service for the SAT (QAS) and Test Information Release for the ACT (TIR) allow students to order a copy of the exam questions they saw on test day. These can be used for review to prepare for subsequent exams. (Note: students cannot expect to receive the QAS or TIR before the next scheduled exam.)

ACT Registration

To register to take the ACT, you must create an account on the ACT website. Note that while your home school may not administer the exam on your desired test date, you may register to take the exam at another school close by.

State Contracts

Also note that in some cases your state may contract with the ACT to administer the test to all high school juniors at no direct cost to you. These tests are administered on dates apart from the national test dates. Contact your school’s counseling department to learn whether your school offers this option.

Is there a limit?

While you can take the ACT up to twelve times, this is inadvisable from the perspective of both cost and practicality. Most students will achieve their highest scores after taking the test two or three times. Taking the test after this point is usually not a productive use of time.

Girl on laptop

Does it make a difference whether I take the SAT or the ACT? How do I know which one I should take?

For most students, no: colleges and universities across the US recognize both exams as equals during the admissions process. You will not disadvantage yourself by opting to take one of the exams and not the other; nor will you gain an advantage by submitting scores from both exams.

The best way to determine which test is better for you is to take a full-length diagnostic practice exam for each test. You can then compare the results using a concordance table.

Girl in pink in class

What is the structure of the ACT, and how is it scored?

The ACT comprises four sections: English (45 minutes, 75 questions), Math (60 minutes, 60 questions), Reading (35 minutes, 40 questions), and Science (35 minutes, 40 questions). You can also choose whether to take the optional Essay (40 minutes). The sections are always administered in the same order. All questions on the test are in the multiple choice format.

The ACT provides four scores on a 1-36 point scale, one for each of the four main sections. Your four section scores are then averaged to obtain your composite score, also on a 1-36 scale. Your score report also provides a number of subscores that distinguish your performance in more specific areas.

The essay score is entirely separate from the 1-36 section and composite scores, and does not affect your section or composite scores at all. Instead, your essay is graded using four scores on a scale of 0-12. These scores are not summed, but are reported as individual numbers out of 12.

What content does the ACT test?

The ACT tests the content learned and skills developed over many years of students’ academic paths. These include:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Understanding of main ideas, author's intent, word usage, rhetorical devices, and structure in the context of large passages
  • Grasp of English grammar, sentence structure, efficiency, and writing conventions
  • Algebra I and II, geometry, and trigonometry
  • Writing skills (if you choose to write the Essay)

The ACT is faster paced than the SAT, but in general, its questions are more straightforward.

Should I prepare for the ACT? How much time should I spend doing so?

Absolutely. Contrary to what many people think, the ACT is not a test of IQ (general intelligence); rather, it is standardized, and is thus predictable. There is usually a strong correlation between the amount of effort you put into preparing for the ACT and your performance on the test.

That said, the amount of preparation necessary will be different for each student. The amount of time you spend will depend on your starting scores, your goal scores, and your ability to work prep into your busy schedule.

For most students, we recommend starting prep for the ACT about four months prior to the test date. By spending approximately three hours per week on prep over this timespan, most students will be able to prep comprehensively.

How can I prepare for the ACT?

We’ve got you covered. With prep options available for students of every ability level and for every budget, Method Test Prep can help you succeed on the ACT. Check out our options below!

Test Prep Webinars

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Educators - Get A Behind The Scenes Look At Our Web Based Programs

Join us as we demonstrate how we are continuing to push the envelope. The demo will provide you a better understanding of the high quality SAT & ACT prep programs we offer.

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Parents - What Do You Need to Know As Far As The SAT/ACT?

Tom Ehlers, the founder and president of Method Test Prep, will help you learn all about the ACT, SAT, and PSAT and how to ensure your child is well prepared. Parents who take the time to be on will learn how to make sure that their children score as high as possible on these exams.

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Students and Parents - Welcome To The College Adventure

It can be stressful enough finishing High School let alone thinking about what lies ahead…college! Take advantage of this interactive 60 minute College Fun Shop webinar on making the most of the college process.

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eBook: Think Fast

eBook: Think Fast

Taking a standardized exam like the ACT is like trying to win a race. Learn more about the speed and strategy necessary for excelling on the test!

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Online SAT/ACT Self Paced Demo

Online SAT/ACT Self Paced Demo

Method Test Prep’s online self paced prep program allows you to improve your score on your own time at home. Audio, video and written explanations help guide you to raise your knowledge and confidence on the ACT or SAT.

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Quick Guides

Quick Guides

Use these guides as a quick-reference for the most important concepts and strategies on the SAT and ACT.

Tutoring

Tutoring

Doing well on the SAT and ACT is a matter of matching your individual strengths to the concepts on the exams. Developing strategies that favor your personal learning style will make all the difference on test day. Our tutors help you do just that.

Classes

Classes

Students get the exposure they need to important subject matter—like critical reading, math, writing and science concepts—AND the test-taking strategies that make the difference.

Practice Tests

Practice Tests

Method Test Prep regularly holds practice tests at its Mineola, NY and Plainview, NY centers, where students are able to take a full-length SAT or ACT under test-like conditions.

Self-Paced

Self-Paced

Self-Paced online test prep crafted by our experts. Prepare for SAT or ACT on your schedule from your own home.