By Scott Sullivan
President and Founder, Sullivan Tutoring
and Becky Squibb
Director of English, Sullivan Tutoring
You’ve heard them. You’ve worried about them. You’ve started to believe them.
SAT & ACT myths seem to be multiplying these days. It is important to know what to believe and what to disregard before test day. Check out these 5 common myths about the SAT and ACT:
Myth #1 “I’m not a good test taker, so I can’t do well on the SAT/ACT.”
Don’t believe it! The SAT and ACT are, in fact, tests BUT even if you don’t always do well on tests in school, you can still excel on the SAT and ACT. Why? The SAT and ACT are very predictable and coachable. Prepare for test day by taking multiple full-length practice tests and reviewing relevant concepts; these practice tests will give you a good idea of what the actual test is going to be like. By working through 7 or more of them, you will feel much more confident on test day, regardless of whether you believe you are a good test-taker or not.
Myth #2 “The scores don’t matter.”
SAT and ACT scores are a significant piece of your college application. Sure, there are other factors that colleges consider when reviewing applicants– like grades, extracurricular activities, and the application essay– but your score is a significant piece of your application. SAT/ACT scores are objective and quantifiable so it is a good tool for colleges to use when evaluating such a huge pool of applicants.
Myth #3 “The essays don’t matter.”
Even though the essay is technically “optional”, we strongly advise you to sign up for the SAT and/or ACT with the essay. Some schools require you to submit an SAT/ACT essay score, while others do not. Even if the schools that you are considering applying to do not require the essay, you might decide to apply to a school that does require the essay later on.
Additionally, the essay component of the tests can give you an edge on the competition. One student’s test scores may be similar to another student’s test scores; however, if one student has a solid essay score and the other didn’t even bother to take it, there’s a clear winner.
Myth #4 “Completing online practice tests is enough to prepare for the SAT/ACT.”
Online practice tests are supplementary; they should not be your only form of preparation. We recommend that you take full-length practice tests, and go over them with a tutor who can help you understand any confusing concepts and offer you test-taking strategies. At Sullivan Tutoring, we work through real practice tests together during our tutoring sessions. We believe that it is important to focus on your personal strengths and weaknesses in order to create individualized testing strategies.
Myth #5 “I should only take the ACT if I’m good at science.”
The ACT contains a “science” section, while the SAT does not; however, the ACT science section does not actually test you on your knowledge of science topics. This section is more like reading comprehension. You will be asked to simply extract information from various graphs, tables, and experiment designs. You don’t have to be a science guru to do well on the ACT science section, so you shouldn’t let it determine whether or not you should take the ACT.
Have you heard some other SAT or ACT myths? Concerned about your upcoming test because of some rumor you’ve heard about it? Leave a comment and we’ll help you get the facts straight.