ACT

Visit the ACT website for additional details and registration.

The ACT tests the following subject areas:

  1. English
  2. Mathematics
  3. Reading
  4. Science

Note: There is also an ACT Plus Writing test that includes a 40-minute essay. While all schools will accept the ACT, there are some schools that will require the ACT Plus Writing version.  Be sure to check for the ACT requirements for each school that you are considering.

The ACT is available outside the US 5 times a year: October, December, February, April and June.  The ACT Plus Writing is NOT offered in February.

The ACT is a multiple-choice test (215 questions) and, including breaks, will take 3.5 hours to complete (about 4 hours for the ACT Plus Writing).

English

A 45-minute long test with 75 questions in all.  The test focuses on:

  • Usage & Mechanics: punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure;
  • Rhetorical Skills: strategy, organization, style.

Mathematics

60-minutes long with 60 questions total.  It covers the following 6 areas:

  1. Arithmetic (~14 questions)
  2. Basic Algebra (~10 questions)
  3. Intermediate Algebra (9 questions)
  4. Coordinate Geometry (9 questions)
  5. Plane Geometry (~14 questions)
  6. Trigonometry (~4 questions)

Note: Calculators are allowed for the test, but certain models are banned (TI-89, TI-92, calculators with computer algebra systems (CAS) like the TI-Inspire CAS).

Reading

35-minute, 40-question test on passage reading comprehension.  There are 4 sections, each containing 1 long and 2 short passages. The passages focus on the following:

  • Social Studies
  • Natural Sciences
  • Literature
  • Humanities

Science

35-minute, 40-question test.  The content includes biology, chemistry, physics and Earth sciences (including Astronomy).  The test focuses less on science knowledge and more on reasoning, interpretation, evaluation and problem solving.  Calculators are not allowed.

Writing (Optional. See above for details.)

A 40-minute essay in which students present and defend a point of view on a selected topic. Students can adopt 1 of the 3 points of view presented in the prompt or present their own.


SAT

The SAT has recently undergone some of the biggest changes in its history, leading to a new test that was first released in March 2016.  Overall, the test aims to be more practical and relevant to skills that students learn in school.  Say goodbye to endless memorizing of vocabulary words and arcane grammatical rules and say hello to more straightforward reading passages and fewer math questions designed specifically to trick you.

Format & Scoring:

The SAT has 4 sections + and optional essay.

  1. Evidence Based Reading
  2. Writing and Language
  3. Math (no calculator)
  4. Math (calculator allowed)
  5. Essay (Optional)

The reading and writing section are combined and graded on a scale of 200 to 800, and the same goes for the two combined math sections. The highest combined score one could get is once again a 1600. The test is 3 hours long, or nearly 4 hours long with the essay.

Reading

  • The Reading section is 65 minutes long and consists of 5 long reading passages, each with 10-11 multiple choice questions, for a total of 52 questions. 
  • There are now a few questions based upon interpreting graphs related to the passages. 
  • Short Reading passages have been eliminated.
  • Sentence completions have been eliminated as well, so there are now very few vocabulary based questions on the test.

Writing and Language

  • The new Writing section is 35 minutes long and consists of 4 long passages, each with 11 questions, for a total of 44 questions.
  • The multiple choice section has questions covering spotting grammatical errors in sentences, improving sentence construction and grammar as well as questions that test students ability to understand the passage and improve the overall writing.

Mathematics

  • There are two math sections: a 25 minute section with 20 questions and a 55 minute section with 38 questions.
  • Calculator is not allowed in the shorter math section.
  • Most questions are multiple choice; 13 questions are grid-in.
  • Strong emphasis on Algebra and higher level math, including trigonometry. 
  • Many questions involve quite a bit of reading, so the ability to read and comprehend English in the problems is important. 

Optional Essay

  • The essay is 50 minutes long
  • Students will read a long passage (600-700 words) and then are asked to analyze the author’s argument. 
  • Students are not asked to give their opinion of the topic at hand. 

Over time there has always been a certain amount of criticism about the SAT. This is not surprising, for the SAT has been revised numerous times in its decades-old history.  The newest version was released internationally in May 2016.  See our analysis of the upcoming changes here.


SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests are used in conjunction with the SAT in assessing the qualifications of Secondary, International or Post-Secondary students applying to highly-competitive American universities. In fact, these American institutions weigh the SAT Subject Test scores just as heavily as the SAT scores in making admissions decisions.  Some schools require three Subject Tests, some require two and some none at all. Check the school websites to find out.

  • Unlike the rather general SAT, the SAT Subject Tests cover specific subject areas that are for the most part covered while in secondary school.
  • The SAT Subject Tests cover the following subject areas:
  1. English Literature
  2. History (US, World)
  3. Mathematics (Level 1 or 2 with calculator)
  4. Science (Biology (Ecological or Molecular), Chemistry, Physics)
  5. Modern Languages (Mandarin, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Latin, Spanish) NOTE: these tests are available only on select (not all) test dates!  Check the College Board website for details.

Special Notes for the SAT & SAT Subject Tests

  • Testtakers does not register students for the SAT.  Visit College Board or Connectere (College Board International Representative for the SAT) for details.

  • The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are available in Singapore in January, May, June, October, November and December each year.

  • You must indicate which SAT Subject Tests you plan to take when you register.

  • Standby registration and test-day changes (changes to test center, test date, or test type (i.e. changing the SAT to the SAT Subject Tests or vice-versa)) are not permitted anywhere. Check the College Board website for further details.

  • Waitlist Status is not available in certain countries including China, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam.

  • On test day you can change which SAT Subject Tests you are taking, except for Language with Listening Tests. There is no charge for changing from one Subject Test to a different Subject Test. If you add a test, you will be billed for the additional fee. Note that some students may not be able to change tests on test day if required materials are not available.

  • Students can take up to three of the one-hour Subject Tests on a given test date but cannot take both the Subject Tests and the SAT on the same day.

  • The Language with Listening tests are always given in the first hour of testing.

  • Only one listening test can be taken per test date.

  • Calculators may be used only on the SAT and Mathematics Level 1 and Level 2 Subject Tests.


SSAT

Visit the SSATB website for further details.

The test is offered 8 times a year internationally and is required for admission to boarding schools and other independent secondary schools worldwide.  It is designed for students currently studying in grades 3-11 and has 3 levels of difficulty (Elementary, Middle, Upper).  It measures verbal, quantitative and reading skills with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving.

Note: Calculators are not allowed during the test.

Scoring

Scaled Score

The scaled score is the result of applying the Raw Score to an algorithm and is scored on a bell curve.  It also adjusts for difficulty level differences from test to test, so that a particular score is consistent over time (the score value remains the same no matter when it was taken.  For the Upper level SSAT, the Scaled Score ranges from 500-800 per section (Verbal, Quantitative, Reading), with a mean score of 650.

Personal Score Range

Indicates variations to your score if you decided to take the test multiple times within a short time period (a few months, for example).

Percentile Rank

Ranked 1-99, the SSAT reports percentile ranks compared to those who have taken the SSAT for the first time within the 3 years prior to a particular test year (For example: a test taken in 2013 will report a percentile rank compared with those from tests taken from 2010-2012).