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PSAT/SAT/ACT

PSAT/NMQST Information

 

The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  It is a standardized test that measures college readiness in math, reading, and writing.  At Carnegie Schools-Riverside the PSAT is administered in October each year.  All 8th through 11th grade students are given the exam at school.  We do not administer the PSAT 8/9.  Instead, all 8th through 11th graders take the same PSAT/NMSQT.  This allows us to better track students’ progress year-to-year.  Score reports are distributed to students in the Spring semester.  2016 was the first year that the PSAT was offered to all 8th through 11th grade students.  The cost of the exam is included in tuition.  There is no need for students to register for the exam.

 

SAT Information

 

 

SAT Test Dates for the 2018-2019 School Year

 

Test Date

Normal Registration

Late Registration

Score Release

October 6, 2018
September 7, 2018    
November 3, 2018
October 5, 2018
   
December 1, 2018 November 2, 2018    
March 9, 2019 February 8, 2019    
May 4, 2019 April 5, 2019    
June 1, 2019 May 3, 2019    

 

These are the dates as published by College Board and they are subject to change.  The College Board has eliminated the January test date and has added an August test date for the 2017-2018 school year.

 

Students are responsible for registering for the SAT themselves through www.collegeboard.org.

 

Students with IEPs or 504 plans should contact the counseling department to request that their IEPs or 504 plans are registered appropriately with College Board to ensure their accommodations can be met.

 

Families who qualify for fee waivers should contact the counseling department no less than two months before the desired test date’s registration date to obtain a fee waiver form.

 

Seniors who are taking the SAT for regular admissions must take the exam no later than the December test date.  Please check with individual colleges and universities to see if they have a different expectation than above.

 

ACT Information

 

 

 

ACT Test Dates for the 2018-2019 School Year

 

Test Date

Normal Registration

Late Registration

October 27, 2018 September 28, 2018  
December 8, 2018 November 2, 2018  
February 9, 2019 January 11, 2019  
April 13, 2019 March 8, 2019  
June 8, 2019 May 3, 2019  

 

These are the dates as published by ACT and they are subject to change.

 

Students are responsible for registering for the ACT themselves through www.act.org.  When students register for the ACT they are required to submit a photo of themselves for identification purposes.

 

Students with IEPs or 504 plans should contact the counseling department to request that their IEPs or 504 plans are registered appropriately with ACT to ensure their accommodations can be met.

 

Families who qualify for fee waivers should contact the counseling department no less than two months before the desired test date’s registration date to obtain a fee waiver form.

 

Seniors who are taking the SAT for regular admissions must take the exam no later than the December test date.  Please check with individual colleges and universities to see if they have a different expectation than above.

 

The SAT vs. the ACT:  Which One Should You Take?

Today, nearly all colleges accept the ACT and SAT equivalently.  This means a student should pick the test that they will perform the best on to increase their admissions chances. Parents and students ask frequently which test is easier.  This is a difficult question to answer, especially now that the SAT has been revamped.  Students may not know how the tests compare to each other or which exam they will do better on.

There are many differences between the ACT and SAT.  These differences can make one test easier or harder for some students.  Some of those differences are explained below.

MATH

 

The SAT and ACT have very similar expectations for math, but the ACT covers more material and as such may be perceived as being more difficult.  The SAT provides math formulas for you at the front of the math sections, but the ACT does not.  The SAT focuses more on algebraic concepts whereas the ACT focuses more on geometric and trigonometric concepts.  The SAT does not allow a calculator for one of the two math sections.  The ACT still allows a calculator to be used on the entire math section.

 

Both tests include:

Properties of Integers and Rational Numbers
  • Sequences
  • Linear and Quadratic Equations
  • Word Problems
  • Functions
  • Basic Geometry (Lines, Triangles, Polygons, Circles, 3-D, and Coordinate Geometry)
  • Data Interpretation
  • Statistics and Probability

 

The ACT also includes:

  • Matrices
  • Complex Numbers
  • Trigonometry
  • Logarithms
  • Conic Sections

 

ENGLISH-WRITING

 

The ACT focuses slightly more on grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure than the SAT.  There are more questions about writing style on the SAT than the ACT.  The SAT also tends to test vocabulary more than the ACT.

 

Both tests include:

  • Faulty Modifier
  • Parallel Construction
  • Sentence Fragments
  • Pronouns
  • Verb Forms
  • Conciseness and Redundancies
  • Number Agreement
  • Idioms
  • Adjective vs. Adverb

 

The ACT also includes:

  • Comparison/Description
  • Word Choice (Non-Idiom)
  • Transitional Logic (Which Words are Best to Move from One Idea to Another)
  • Macro-Logic (How to Order Sentences and Paragraphs)
  • Author’s Formality and Tone

 

ENGLISH-READING

 

The biggest difference between the SAT and the ACT Reading sections is that the SAT includes fill-in-the-blank items.  The ACT only has questions about reading passages.  The SAT also has evidence support questions which are two part questions that ask you a standard question about the passage and a follow up question that asks you to cite evidence (which lines) that support your answer.  Another difference is that the SAT uses line numbers to make references to specific points in the reading passage allowing students to find information more quickly.  The SAT also asks questions about a reading passage in order.  The ACT does not include line numbers for the reading passages and they do not always ask questions in order.

 

The SAT includes:

  • Passages (Main Point, Identifying Details, Inferring Information, Vocabulary in Context, and the Function of Specific Parts)
  • Sentence Completion (Relationship between Two Words and Vocabulary-Based Questions)

 

The ACT includes:

  • Passages (Main Point, Inferring Information, Vocabulary in Context, and the Function of Specific Parts)
  • Fact Finding
  • Comparisons/Contrasts
  • Cause-Effect
  • Author Method

 

SCIENCE

 

The most obvious difference between the SAT and the ACT is that the SAT does not have a Science section.

 

The ACT science section covers:

  • Basic Knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, & Biology
  • Data Representation (Analysis, Interpreting Trends, and Calculations)
  • Research Summaries (Experimental Design, Researcher’s Intent, Hypothetical Experimental Changes, Interpreting Experiments, Understanding Viewpoint, and Comparing Viewpoints)

 

There are other important differences between the ACT and the SAT for students.  The major differences are described below.

 

GUESSING 

 

Caution should be used while guessing on the SAT.  There is a ¼ point penalty for each wrong answer on the SAT.  There is no penalty not answering a question on either the SAT or the ACT. There is no penalty for getting a wrong answer on the ACT.

 PASSAGES

 While SAT passages do tend to follow the same basic patterns, they are not labeled by type or topic. The ACT does label each of the four passages.  The ACT also follows the same order of passages for each test:  1) Literary Narrative, 2) Social Science, 3) Humanities, and 4) Natural Science.

SECTIONS

The SAT does not title the different sections.  Math is easily identifiable, but Reading and Writing are differentiated by question type. The ACT titles its sections in huge bold letters.

QUESTIONS

 The tests have very similar question styles in Math and Reading; the English questions in both tests involve students choosing how to replace underlined parts of sentences and paragraphs. However, they differ in how they apply this format. 

TEST STRUCTURE 

The SAT alternates between Math, Reading and Writing sections, and the essay is always the last section.  The essay is optional.  There are always ten sections on the SAT with three in math, two in writing, three in reading, and the essay.  There is an additional experimental section which can be in any of the three categories.  You will never have two math sections back-to-back.  You score is based upon eight sections plus the essay (if you completed the essay).

The organization of the ACT is much more streamlined.  It only has four sections and they are always in the same order: 1) English-Writing, 2) Math, 3) Reading, and 4) Science.  Occasionally there is a fifth section.  If there is a fifth section, it is the experimental section and does not count towards your score.