4 SAT and ACT Testing Strategies

During the past few days, I’ve sharing ACT and SAT test prep strategies to boost your teenager’s SAT or ACT scores.  You’ll find my final ACT and SAT tips below, along with links to the previous ACT and SAT test prep posts.

SAT Testing Strategy: Use SAT Score Choice

Until last year, students who took the SAT had to turn in all their SAT scores to schools where they were applying. So if students had a bad SAT math section on one test and did far better on the SAT math section on the next, it didn’t matter. They had to submit all their scores.

Not anymore. Through Score Choice, students can designate which SAT test date they want to submit. They can’t, however, cherry pick subcategories to submit. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Let’s say in March a teen got this SAT score:

  • Reading 600
  • Math: 620
  • Writing: 600

In May the teen got these SAT results:

  • Reading 650
  • Math: 600
  • Writing: 600

The teenager can’t submit the SAT reading score from May and the SAT math score from March. You have to pick either the March or May sitting. In this case, the student would send the March scores. If Score Choice won’t help, the next SAT strategy should.

SAT Testing Strategy: Ask if College Cherry Picks Test Scores.

Many colleges have insisted that Score Choice isn’t necessary because they cherry pick SAT test scores for students.

Let’s say that in two different testing periods you got composite scores of 1790 and 1820. But if you used the best subcategories between those two SAT tries, your composite score would inch up to 1840. Many schools will cherry pick the best category scores for you because they want to use the highest numbers possible when they release their published scores. It makes a school’s incoming freshmen class look smarter.

So ask a school how it would formulate your SAT results before you decide whether to submit one or more rounds of SAT test scores.

ACT Testing Strategy: Cherrypicking ACT Test Results.

Last fall I wrote about an ACT testing strategy called superscoring that can boost your overall test score. Increasing  ACT scores by superscoring could put teenagers in a better position to gain admission to some schools or capture fatter financial aid packages or merit scholarships.

Test Strategy:  Don’t assume your SAT or ACT scores are too low.

The biggest admission factor for most schools is a student’s grade point average and the strength of the student’s high school courses. SAT and ACT scores typically rank below that. When in doubt, ask a college how important these test scores are.

Her are links to my other SAT and ACT test tips:

Should You Take the SAT or ACT Test?

Can Guessing Boost Your ACT or SAT Test Scores?

How to Survive Bad SAT or ACT Scores

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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