• Planning to enroll in a US High School? For most independent schools the SSAT is a key requirement. The level (Elementary, Middle or Upper) and the score expected varies according to school grade.
  • Aiming to study at a US University? Either the ACT or SAT is required, although many students take both. Also, an SAT Subject Test may be required, depending on the course and university.
  • Trying for an Ivy League school? Or a Math or Science related course? SAT Subject Tests are often required in addition to SAT or ACT grades, but the specific requirements vary greatly for each course.

The SAT is a standardized test used by all US colleges, such as Northwestern, NYU, UCLA, USC, Harvard and Stanford, to determine a candidate’s potential to excel at the undergraduate level. It is structured into 10 sections that test Critical Reading, Math and Writing. In some instances, universities, in particular selective ones, may require applicants to take theSAT Subject Test too. All US universities alternatively accept the ACT as well – for an informative contrast of the two see our blog post.

The CollegeBoard have changed the format of the SAT for those taking the test since March 2016. Key changes in the new format include the removal of the penalty for guessing answers, and changes to components. In the new format students face an Evidence-based Reading and Writing component (comprising a Reading Test and Writing and Language Test) and a Math component, in addition to an optional Essay which is required by some institutions. All SAT sections have multiple choice questions that are generally ordered by difficulty, and the entire test is is 3 hours and 50 minutes.

Under this newer format overall scores range from 400 to 1600 points, comprised of scores out of 200 to 800 points in the two compulsory papers – our students mostly score 1300 and above. The optional Essay is separately graded across three sections. Scoring well in this new format places an increased emphasis on reading skills, in particular. To know more about the current SAT and what you need to beat the test, attend our free trial class.

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) evaluates the ability of students in grades 3 through 11 and is often used by independent or private US prep schools to make decisions regarding admission. It is administered on three levels (Elementary, Middle, and Upper) and consists of a brief unscored writing sample plus multiple-choice sections that include Quantitative (Mathematics), Reading Comprehension, and Verbal questions.

The SSAT is offered in paper-based format at registered test centers only and is administered on fixed dates 8 times each year. Scores are broken down by section (Verbal, Quantitative/Math, Reading). A total score (a sum of the three sections) is also reported. The total score for the Middle Level SSAT ranges from 440-710 while the total score for the Upper Level is 500-800. The Elementary Level is graded on a slightly different scale, the total score of which ranges from 900-1800.

Students may be required to take the SAT Subject Test, in addition to the SAT Reasoning Test, if they wish to apply to highly selective programs and/or universities, such as Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cornell and Berkeley.

There are currently twenty SAT subject tests, ranging from literature, mathematics, history, biology, chemistry and languages (including Latin, Hebrew and Spanish). Each test takes one hour and test-takers may opt to take a maximum of three subject tests at any given date.

Each test is graded from 200 to 800. At ICON+, our SAT Subject Test students mostly score above 700, with numerous perfect scorers!

Subjects offered: Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Literature.

Like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test that assesses a student’s potential to complete college-level work. All colleges and universities in the US, such as UCLA, Harvard, Boston University and UT Austin, accept both the SAT and ACT and have no preference between them. Choosing the test to take will depend on a number of factors such as the student’s academic knowledge (only the ACT has a science section) and individual aptitude (the SAT has a strong focus on reasoning). For more info on the similarities and differences, see our blog post. Usually, students prefer to take both the SAT and ACT and submit the better result in their university application.

The ACT is used to measure student achievement in English, Math, Reading, Science and Writing. The ACT comprises of 4 sections: English (45 minutes), Math (60 minutes), Reading (35 minutes), Science (35 minutes) and Writing (optional essay – 40 minutes). Scores, valid for 5 years, are on a scale of 1 to 36. At ICON+, most ACT students score above 30!

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