Image of a Baltimore School for the Arts science experiment

SAT Info

There are a number of tests you most likely will need to take to apply to college. Let’s go through them one by one.

SAT

Also called the SAT Reasoning Test or SAT I, this test is regarded as a measure of the critical-thinking skills you’ll need for success in college. It has three sections: reading, mathematics, and writing (optional). The reading and math sections are scored on a 200-800 point basis for a possible score of 1600. For the math section, students should use a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator.

All BSA students are required to take the SAT at least twice. We recommend you take the SAT at the end of your junior year (May or June) and in the fall (October [preferred] or November) of your senior year. It is not advisable to take the SAT more than three times. Statistically, scores do not change significantly after taking the SAT twice.

ACT

However, many students do better on the ACT than the SAT, so we recommend you take the ACT at least twice as well. (See a handy little comparison chart.)

The ACT is comprised of four subject areas — English, reading, math, and science — and an optional essay, the ACT Plus Writing. Most colleges will accept the SAT or the ACT. The most competitive colleges will accept the SAT and two SAT subject tests or the ACT Plus Writing. A student will receive four separate sub scores (1 is the lowest, 36 is the highest), one for each subject area, as well as a composite score that is the rounded average of the four sub scores. If you take the ACT Plus Writing, the essay is scored on a 2-12 point basis.

SAT Subject Tests (also called SAT II tests)

These are one-hour tests based on individual subjects, required by some of the more competitive universities. The best time to take a subject test is just after completing the course related to the test subject. Like the SAT Reasoning Test, the subject test is scored on a 200-800 point basis. A student can elect to take up to three subject tests on one testing day.

The SAT subject tests are as follows:

  • Math Level 1: Can be taken after Algebra 2
  • Math Level 2: Can be taken after pre-calculus
  • Foreign Language: Should not be taken until the third year of a language has been completed. The Language with Listening test (November only) is recommended only for students with strong listening comprehension.
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • U.S. History
  • World History
  • Literature

Test Preparation

The most important thing you can do to prepare for any of these tests is to practice, practice, practice. You can purchase a book of SAT or ACT practice tests and do 10-20 (or more!) questions a night, along with your regular homework. Score yourself and if you get a question wrong, read the description of the correct answer. When you’re within a month of taking the test, take one morning on a weekend, and time yourself taking one of the practice tests.

If your family can afford to pay for SAT or ACT tutoring, take advantage of the assistance. It is advisable to take a class or see a tutor within a month of taking the test.

In addition, there are several online tutoring options.  Please note that prices for tutoring services vary.

BSA usually offers after-school test preparation courses before the fall (and sometimes spring) SAT tests. The BSA courses should not be your only source of practice. They are only to provide extra assistance.

Registration and sending scores

You can register for the SAT here. In the past, the district has paid for the May and October SATs. You must fill out the paper application and give it to our guidance counselor, Abby McKelvey, by the deadline. Note: The district does not pay for SAT subject tests.

You can register for the ACT at Act.org

You must submit a photo, attached to the paper application or uploaded if applying online, with your registration for the SAT and ACT. The photo you provide will become part of your admission ticket.

On test day, you must bring a photo I.D. and the ticket.

After you have taken the test, your scores will be sent to you. This usually takes about three weeks.

It is your responsibility to send your scores to the colleges to which you are applying. To send SAT scores, you may do this from the College Board website using your username and password. To send ACT scores, you may do this from the ACT website using your username and password.

College Board, the organization that offers the SAT, has implemented a “Score Choice” option. This allows student to choose by test date which SAT score they want sent to colleges (You may have your highest math score in May, but your highest Critical Reading score in October.) Please note that many highly selective colleges do not allow students to use the “Score Choice” option.

To see a list of schools that do not require standardized test scores, go to www.fairtest.org.