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SAT and ACT Testing: An Overview

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It is a fact of school life that standardized tests are here to stay. There are, of course, the tests which students must take that are state-mandated. But aside from those, high school students have other standardized tests to think about.

Any high schoolers wanting to further their education after high school need to think about the SAT and/or the ACT. In order to apply to any junior college, college, or university, a student needs to submit an SAT score or an ACT score—or, for some schools, a student may be required to submit both scores.

The SAT isn’t like the any of the state-mandated high school exams. Instead it is intended to test a student’s general academic knowledge. It has ten sections that test reading, writing, and mathematics. It is a timed test that lasts for 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The ACT is similar to the SAT in that it is a timed exam; however, the ACT is shorter in length. It is only 2 hours and 55 minutes. But, there is an optional 30-minute writing section that would increase the length of the test.

The ACT doesn’t focus on general academic knowledge. Nor is it like the state-mandated exams students must take. Instead, it tests students directly on the subject material that is covered in high school. There are four sections: reading, mathematics, English, and science.

Students can take the ACT and SAT when they are juniors in high school. If desired, they can retake the tests as high school seniors to attempt to improve their scores.

Some students opt to take only one of these exams; some choose to take both. If a student doesn’t want to take both exams, it may be wise to check with the colleges to which he plans to apply to find out which test score is required for application.

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