ACT & SAT Tests FAQ (& short answers)

1)      Which test should my son or daughter take: ACT or SAT?

This is (by far) the most frequently asked question, even though it has a relatively simple answer: have your daughter or son take practice tests and then we can help you make the decision.  Ideally, students should take both practice tests within a 2-3 week period. If your student is a junior, you might be able to compare an ACT practice test score to his or her PSAT. At Lafayette Academy, practice tests are ALWAYS FREE.

2)      When should my daughter or son take the actual ACT or SAT?

Most students take their first ACT or SAT during the spring of their junior years.  Advanced juniors can take a fall test (the beginning of their junior year). In all cases, you should consider extracurricular activities and how your student is scoring on practice tests.

3)      How many times can a student take a test?

Many students take the ACT or SAT twice; some take each test once and then take one of the tests a second time.  You should NOT take any of the tests more than three times.

4) What are the major differences between the ACT and SAT?

This is a frequently asked frequently asked question.  The math on the ACT covers a lot of topics at the surface level, with topics ranging from Algebra 1 to PreCalculus, with an emphasis on Geometry. The math on the SAT tests fewer topics but more in depth, stopping at Algebra 2.   The ACT has a science section while the SAT includes a few reading passages that focus on science topics.  Time management is a big challenge on the ACT, especially in reading and science. The SAT reading section is much more challenging than ACT reading, even though you have a lot more time to complete the SAT reading. Again, the only thing that really matters is how students perform on each test which is why we strongly recommend practice tests. Aren’t you glad you asked this question?

5)  “What about the PSAT?” (for some reason, people often phrase PSAT questions like this example)

The PSAT is a good opportunity to get your son or daughter to take a practice test because most students take the PSAT. If you happen to have a genius living under your roof, the PSAT could be hugely beneficial because of the National Merit program. For most students, PSAT scores don’t matter so you should not spend money preparing your son or daughter for this test.

6) How can I be a great test prep parent?

In the interest of full disclosure, this is not a FAQ. If it were a FAQ, this would be my answer: challenge your children to embrace the preparation challenge on their own by promising to leave them alone (after you enroll them in one of our programs).  We all mean well, but we fail to realize how much added stress we place on our children by micro-managing their test prep experience.

*SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, our services.
*ACT is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc. which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, our services.