Three Minute Read

Standardized Testing Overview

As students prepare for these vigorous tests, let me give you a small run-through of what they are. There are two main standardized tests that people take: the SAT and the ACT. These two tests are recommended for most colleges to involve scholars into a more competitive realm. There is a huge difference between these two tests, and the student should decide which test to take based on their strengths. The main emphasis for the SAT is on Reading and English. There are definitely more inference questions than the ACT. On the other hand, the ACT highlights math and science as its dominant elements. However, the ACT is very heavy on time because every section is shorter than the SAT. Both tests provide optional writing portions, but most universities will ask for the writing portion. In total, the SAT with the writing portion is 3 hours and 50 minutes, while the ACT is 3 hours and 35 minutes long with the writing portion. The SAT is out of 1600, and the ACT is out of 36.

Depending on the major, scholars can also take supplemental tests to boost up their college application. Pertaining to the STEM fields, universities prefer students to take two SAT subject tests in the math and science section, whereas students partaking in the communications major do not have to take any SAT subject tests. Subject tests are for 60 minutes, and all tests are out of 800.


Students usually start studying for the SAT and ACT the summer before their junior year. They can either self-study by practicing and taking at-home tests or they can attend summer classes that pertain to the specific test. The month before sophomore year ends should be the time when students take both tests and see which test is the best fit for them in deciding for which test to prepare for.

In terms of subject tests, it depends on the class that you have finished. In order to take the Math 2 SAT subject test, students are highly recommended to have finished Precalculus. Otherwise, the other SAT subject tests vary.


Do not stress about these tests! They do not determine your self-worth. All they do is evaluate what you have learned so far throughout your school years and how you can enforce them in a tense testing environment.

As you entire this stressful setting, always remember to calm down by taking deep breaths. Eat a big breakfast and allow your brain to destress. I advise you to not study the day before; instead, trust your instincts and enjoy the day before!


Photo Credits: Juju Han and Chris Liverani

Writer: Harshita D.


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