Below, you will find an overview of the tests students will take, college policies, and information about registration, general scheduling, and test preparation. Testing requirements may vary from college to college, so it is important to review specific campus requirements and recommendations in order to meet their requirements. Excellent, updated information is readily available at www.collegeboard.com and www.ACTstudent.org. SAT exams are administered seven times per year, starting in October and ending in June.
(A) The Types of Standardized Tests
SAT Reasoning Test: Three hours and forty-five minutes long, the test has three sub-scores, rather than two, for a total of 2400 points versus the previous 1600. The three sections are Writing, Mathematics, and Critical Reading.
Each is outlined below.
Writing section: The Writing section lasts 60 minutes and incorporates grammar, usage, and word choice through 35 minutes of multiple choice questioning and 25 minutes of essay writing. This section is designed to closely parallel the former SAT II Writing exam, which tested students' understanding of the rules of standard written English by asking them to identify sentence errors and make improvements to sentences and paragraphs. The essay, similar to the essay portion of the SAT II Writing exam from past years, focuses on a student's ability to develop a clear point of view on a specific issue and will count for approximately 30% of the score for the Writing section. Students may use arguments based on their personal experience or on their reading. Scored from 1-12 points, the essay—which the College Board deems a “first draft, rather than a polished piece of writing”—will also be available to colleges receiving score reports. (How many colleges, if any, will actually use that information is still undetermined.)
Mathematics section: Timed at 70 minutes, the new math section incorporates two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. Topics covered include number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry, statistics, probability, and data analysis. The questions are multiple-choice and include student-produced responses. There is no longer a Quantitative Comparisons section and the level of math to be tested has been raised to include such elements as linear functions, manipulations with exponents, and the properties of tangent lines.
Critical Reading (formerly Verbal) section: Also 70 minutes long, this section incorporates two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. Skills tested include reading comprehension, sentence completions, and critical reading passages (each 500-800 words) that replace the analogies and longer reading passages of the past. All questions are in the multiple-choice format.
SAT Subject Tests
The traditional SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple-choice tests covering specific subject areas and are scored from 200-800. When students register for a sitting of the SAT Subject Tests, they may choose to take up to three such tests on a given test date, but they cannot take both SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Tests on the same day. The decision about which tests to take can be left until the day of the test, except in the case of the modern language listening tests (because they are offered only in November). Please note also that Latin is given only twice a year—in December and June. SAT Subject Tests differ from the Reasoning Test in that they measure more closely a student's knowledge of a particular subject material. Ideally, a student takes an SAT Subject Test just after completing the relevant course of study (or in some cases, while enrolled in the most advanced level of the subject), when the material is fresh. Some colleges do not require Subject Tests, while others have quite specific requirements. For example, for the Class of 2012, the UC system has dropped the requirement that students take two SAT Subject Tests, although certain UC campuses and majors will recommend them. See the following website for more information: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/freshman/requirements/examination-requirement/SAT-subject-tests/index.html
The booklet, Taking the SAT Subject Tests is available in the College Counseling Office and provides sample questions.
Students may register for their SAT exams via the paper registration forms available in the College Counseling Office or online at www.collegeboard.com.
Also, the College Board provides a very limited number of fee waivers for students with extreme financial need. Please contact the college counselors if you would like to request a waiver, which must be done well in advance of the registration deadline.
SAT Preparation Booklet , available in the College Counseling Office and online, includes test-taking tips and a sample exam. Students should review it carefully. Register for the SAT is another useful booklet available in the College Counseling Office. Collegeboard.com also offers detailed information about registering and taking the tests, including sample questions, test-taking tips, and many other features.
ACT: The American College Test is fully accepted by most colleges and universities as an alternative to the SAT Reasoning Test. The ACT is composed of four multiple-choice tests that measure academic achievement in major curricular areas: English, math, reading, and science. Each section, and the test as a whole, is scored from 1-36: English, a 75-item, 45-minute test measuring understanding of standard written English punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style; mathematics, a 60-minute test of mathematical reasoning skills; reading, a 40-item, 35-minute test measuring reading comprehension skills using texts commonly found in first-year college courses across fiction prose, humanities, social studies and natural sciences; and science reasoning, a 40-item, 35-minute test measuring interpretation, evaluation, analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the study of the natural sciences. The best way to determine if a student wishes to take the ACT is to check www.ACTstudent.org for its online resources. (Registration and preparation booklets are available in the College Counseling Office.) The ACT exams are administered six times per year, starting in September and ending in June.
ACT with Writing: The ACT has also undergone a change in the form of a new Writing Test. While the 30-minute writing component will be optional, it is required, for instance, of any student applying to the UC system using ACT scores. Therefore, we recommend that every student taking the ACT include the additional Writing exam. Specifically, students will be asked to produce a sample that demonstrates the ability to develop a logical, coherent argument.
(B) College Policies on SAT Subject Tests
Because the new SAT incorporates a formal, timed, essay-writing section, the SAT II Writing exam has been discontinued. Therefore, we recommend that while students plan on taking a minimum of two (or consider taking three) exams, they focus their energies on specific subjects, including mathematics, foreign languages, English literature, history, and the sciences. Most colleges have reduced the number of required SAT Subject Tests to two rather than three, yet a handful of highly selective schools (e.g. Harvard, Georgetown, etc.) continue to require (or strongly recommend) three tests. If a student takes more than two, in most cases, the two highest scores will be considered. The Math I exam will no longer be accepted at the UCs and several schools have recommended that if opting for a math test, a student should choose the Math II exam. For most students, we recommend that if they desire to take an SAT Subject Test in math, they should take Math II.
(C) Typical Testing Pattern
We recommend that Bentley students sit for one SAT Reasoning Test, one set of SAT Subject Tests, and one ACT w/Writing (after consulting with the college counselor) in the spring of the junior year. Some then retake the exam once early in the senior year. As for the Subject Tests, since no college or university requires more than three, a student can choose which tests to take. Students should consult with teachers and counselors and review sample tests in order to select the subject tests most appropriate to their intended fields of study and on which they are likely to score the highest. Practice materials are available online, in the College Counseling Office and in academic department offices.