ACT/SAT Exam FAQs
Q: Why do students have to take standardized tests like the ACT/SAT?
A: It is almost impossible to compare the achievements of students from different schools without standardized tests. Some high schools are simply easier than others, so GPAs do not always tell the whole story. Standardized tests are a necessary evil.
Q: Why do some students struggle with these types of exams?
A: Many factors affect performance, including test anxiety, motivational issues, poor test-taking strategies, a weak understanding of exam content and, surprisingly, even personality traits.
Q: How important are standardized tests like the ACT and SAT?
A: Extremely important! Take, for example, two recent graduates who had almost the same GPAs. After the course, the first one scored a 1400 on the SAT and the second one scored a 1440 (on the 1600 scale). The first student was involved in over a dozen extracurricular activities, while the second student hardly participated in anything outside of school. In the end, the second student received $40,000 more in scholarships in spite of his lack of involvement. Colleges do their best to look at “the whole person,” but how can they do that if they receive thousands of applications a year? Students need to do everything they can to make themselves as attractive as possible for admissions and scholarships. Great test scores are the easiest way to compensate for a less-than-perfect GPA or a weak resume.
Q: What is the difference between the ACT & SAT?
A: The ACT (an achievement test) is more content-based and tests higher levels of math, reading, and some science. The SAT (an aptitude test) is strategy-based and only includes basic Algebra I and Geometry skills with a little Algebra II. The SAT also has reading and writing.
Q: Should students take both exams?
A: Absolutely! Since the two tests are so different in nature, most of the time students will find one of the tests easier than the other.
Q: How many times should students take the ACT?
A: Usually once is sufficient, because improvement is more difficult on the ACT than the SAT. Also students should take the ACT test as late as they can in their academic career considering it contains so much more content (including advanced mathematics) than the SAT.
Q: When should students start taking the SAT?
A: They should begin taking the SAT as soon as they successfully complete Algebra I and Geometry. For many students, that will be in their freshman and/or sophomore year!
Q: Then why do most high schools advise students to take the SAT in their junior year?
A: We have no idea. It’s probably because it has always been done that way and no one has taken the time to carefully re-examine this practice. This general policy does not take into account individual differences among students, many of whom are ready to take the test by freshman or sophomore year.
Q: When is the SAT offered?
A: The SAT is offered seven times a year: October, November, December, January, March, May and June.
Q: How many times should students take the SAT?
A: To maximize scores they need to take the SAT a minimum of three times, but they should never take it five times unless one of our instructors specifically advises them to do so. (Some elite colleges begin to average SAT scores if you take it the fifth time.)
Q: What is the PSAT?
A: The PSAT is a preliminary SAT that is used as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is always given in October of the junior year. (Most schools also administer the PSAT to sophomores, but it is only used as practice.) If a student becomes a National Merit Scholar, they’ve just hit the lottery. They’ll have to get another mailbox to accommodate all the scholarship offers they will receive. Why, then, don’t most people prepare for this important test?
Q: What about additional services offered by College Board?
A: Hands down, the best thing you can order is the Question and Answer Service. You can do this when you register, or after the fact. Our instructors can look at the QAS and very quickly diagnose problem areas. Then students can work on those weaknesses. The QAS provides a copy of the SAT taken, including all test questions, individual answers, the correct answers and the level of difficulty for each question. (Please note the QAS is not available for every test date. Click on “order information” at www.collegeboard.com for a list of available dates.)
Q: Do prep courses really work?
A: Our course, Strategies for Success, has to work, or you get your money back. In 1987, Jantzi Test Prep began offering a money-back guarantee because we were so confident in the program’s success. Since that time, we have achieved a 98% success rate for score improvements.
ACT/SAT Prep Course FAQs
Q: How long is the Strategies for Success SAT prep course?
A: Each of the six modules is two hours long for a total of 12 hours.
Q: Some courses are 36 hours long. Are they more intensive?
A: No, just longer. Most of these courses provide the same amount of instructional time (12 hours) and use computer modules and so-called practice tests as filler. So in the end, these additional chores dilute instruction and help justify their exorbitant tuition.
Q: What is wrong with the practice tests many other companies use?
A: They don’t use real SAT questions! These tests are not standardized and therefore have very limited benefits. Some of these companies actually use them as pre-tests and post-tests to back up their claims of a specific score increase. There are two major problems with this practice. First, who really cares how much a student scores on a simulated exam since colleges won’t accept them? Second, might there be the temptation to administer a more difficult test in the beginning and an easier version at the end to validate their guarantee?
Q: What is your guarantee?
A: We guarantee your child will improve their score or you get all your money back.
Q: Don’t all courses guarantee that?
A: Some companies appear to offer similar guarantees, but they make it almost impossible to meet their qualifications (read the fine print). One course requires a 100-hour commitment of class and homework combined to get your money back! Other companies prorate refunds. We only require a student to attend the course for 12 hours, complete about 4 hours of homework and take the SAT within 30 days of completing the course. Our guarantee is very simple – very honest.
Q: Don’t all students improve when they re-take the SAT?
A: No. Forty percent of all students re-taking the exam will go down. In addition, from test to test, the average score improvement of all test-takers is only 26 points.
Q: Why can’t you promise a specific score improvement?
A: Neither can anyone else! Other companies promise you the world to get your money – and then make it extremely difficult for you to get a refund if your child is not successful after their course. We will not do business this way. Think about it. Can you guarantee your child will do ALL their homework this week? Does your child ever have a bad day and perform poorly on a test? Since 1987 our students have averaged a 100-point improvement on the math and verbal sections the first time they take the course. Furthermore, with the free unlimited repeats, many students achieve even more than that.
Q: How many students are in each class?
A: Class sizes vary according to the popularity of the test dates and the location, but on an average there are between 20 – 40 new students. Strategies for Success has been taught effectively to both large auditoriums and small groups. Students always learn when they are actively engaged in an enjoyable environment.
Q: Why should I choose your course over others?
A: Many reasons. First of all, you will get results or you get ALL of your money back. Secondly, our instructors are easily the best-trained in the industry. All of our instructors have apprenticed for at least six months before teaching classes. Many companies do not give their instructors any training at all because they assume that achieving a high SAT score guarantees that person is a great SAT teacher. This is not always the case. Very few people make excellent teachers. Another reason is Strategies for Success is FUN! Students consistently say how much they LOVE going to the classes. You’re NOT likely to find that anywhere else.
Q: How do I know my child will like the course?
A: We allow students to attend any two-hour session free to check out the course. In fact, this is one of our strongest marketing tools. We KNOW students will be amazed how much they learn while having fun.
Q: Should students wait to take Strategies for Success until after they have taken the SAT to see how they do?
A: No. Most likely they have already taken a PSAT, which is an accurate predictor of SAT scores. Also, the more times students take the test without proper preparation, they reinforce bad habits. Practice makes perfect only when you practice perfectly. Otherwise, practice makes permanent. Why wait to sign up when students can repeat the course FREE as many times as they want? No matter what you’ve got, our prep course will get them a higher score. No one has ever complained their test scores were too high!
Q: Should I wait to sign up if the class has already begun?
A: No. Since Strategies for Success is taught in individual modules (each class stands alone), students can begin at any time and make-up the missed session(s) the next time the course is offered. After a student has registered for the course, they may repeat the course as many times as they want FREE.
Q: Do I need to re-register for every course if I have already paid?
A: No. If they have already paid for the class, students can simply show up (and bring their Student Strategy Guide.)
Q: How do I find out about upcoming courses?
A: After you have registered for our course, you will periodically receive notifications of future course schedules. You can also go to our website and check the course dates in your area.
Q: What other services do your instructors offer?
A: Our instructors are very accessible and are well-trained in every aspect of the SAT. They will be happy to analyze your score reports and offer additional pointers for improving test scores.-
Q: How do I get Strategies for Success taught in my hometown?
A: Contact us and we will provide you with a “starter kit.” It will make things much easier if you have a good contact inside a local school. Since we have so many believers, we can usually get people on board quickly. We may give a presentation at the school to raise interest in our program. Many of our instructors are willing to travel to open up a new city.