Now that the holidays are over and everyone is back in school, it’s time to make your winter and spring plans for the ACT or SAT. There are some common mistakes that many people make when registering for the actual test, so the first step in smart preparation is to follow these good rules.
DON’T MISS THE DEADLINES
Make sure you register early both to avoid the late fee and to guarantee a space at your preferred testing site. You don’t need the stress of a long drive or an unfamiliar site on test day.
ACT: ACT registration
Many sites fill early, particularly on test dates that feature few sites to begin with. Below are the test dates and registration deadlines for the winter and spring ACT and SAT administrations.
DON’T FILL OUT THE SURVEY
Fill in only the required fields: Leave the non-required fields, such as grades and interests, blank. The registration process will take forever if you answer all the survey questions, and there is no benefit to you in providing all of the extra information. It’s one thing to trade your privacy online to get something free, but you’re paying for this test. Giving the testing agencies more information than they need for a basic registration serves their needs, not yours.
DO REGISTER FOR WRITING/ESSAY
Play it safe. While many colleges and universities have dropped the ACT Writing Test and SAT Essay as a requirement, some have not. If you are 100% certain no school on your list requires or recommends the Writing/Essay, then you could skip it. Otherwise, register for the ACT Writing/SAT Essay.
The Writing/Essay does not affect the ACT composite or SAT total score. But you don’t want to earn a great ACT or SAT score and then be forced to take the test again because you’ve added a target school that requires or recommends the essay section as part of your application. Even if a school only recommends it, a strong score can’t hurt your application. Most importantly, if you do take the Writing/Essay, do your best. Don’t let essay prep take time away from studying for the multiple-choice sections, but do make sure you know what the graders are looking for and are prepared to write your best response.
DON’T SEND SCORE REPORTS TO COLLEGES
When you register, both ACT and College Board offer a number of free score reports to send to colleges and universities. This is one free offer you should turn down. Wait until you are finished testing and then choose the best score reports to send to each school on your list. Yes, you will have to pay a fee for each report, but it’s worth the money. Many schools accept Score Choice, which allows you to send only your best score from one administration. In addition, may colleges “super score” from among all your results on one test type: super scoring means that you can send an assortment of score reports from different test dates and the school will assess you on the basis of the best sub-score from each section. Your “super score” is what your composite (ACT) or total score (SAT) would have been had you hit your highest scores on all four subjects (ACT) or Math and Reading/Writing (SAT) on the same day.
DO PURCHASE A COPY OF YOUR TEST
For certain test dates, you can purchase a copy of your exam and your responses. Reviewing what you missed is an invaluable tool to help you prepare for a retake, so don’t miss the opportunity to get a copy of your test.
You can purchase the ACT Test Information Release for the April, June, and December test dates. Four to six weeks after the test date you will receive a clean paper copy of the exam, along with your answers.
You can purchase the SAT Question and Answer Service for the March, May, and October test dates. The College Board service allows you to look at all of the questions online after you’ve received your scores. For the June, August, November, and December SAT test dates, College Board offers only the SAT Student Answer Service, which allows you to see how many questions you missed, the actual question number, and the category of the missed question, but not the actual question itself. Some students don’t find the fee worth the additional information, but others want to at least know how many questions they missed.
So what are you waiting for? Get that registration out of the way, and turn your attention to beating the ACT and SAT.