Frequently Asked Questions

Why do students have to take standardized tests like the ACT/SAT?

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.

Why do some students struggle with these types of exams?

Many factors affect performance, including test anxiety, motivational issues, poor test-taking strategies, a weak understanding of exam content and, surprisingly, even personality traits.

How important are standardized tests like the ACT and SAT?

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.

What is the difference between the ACT & SAT?

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.

Should students take both exams?

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.

How many times should students take the ACT?

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.

When should students start taking the SAT?

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!

Then why do most high schools advise students to take the SAT in their junior year?

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.

When is the SAT offered?

The SAT is offered seven times a year: October, November, December, January, March, May and June.

How many times should students take the SAT?

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.

What is the PSAT?

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?

What about additional services offered by College Board?

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.

Do prep courses really work?

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.

Ready to find out more? Get started today!

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