New Jersey | Test Prep

Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

We know you want to find the best possible help and support for your student, so we’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Check out our FAQs below or contact us to learn more about our services.

For college admissions in the United States, students may need to take one or more of the following standardized tests: the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), the ACT (American College Testing), and/or AP (Advanced Placement) Exams

 

It’s important to note that the necessity of these tests can vary widely depending on the institution. In recent years, there has been a significant movement towards “test-optional” admissions policies, where submitting scores from the SAT or ACT is not required. Students should check the specific admission requirements of each college or university they are interested in to determine which tests are needed.

The SAT and ACT are both standardized tests used for college admissions in the United States, but there are several differences between them. 

 

SAT: 

  • Content: Focuses on evidence-based reading and writing, math, and an optional essay.
  • Scoring: Each section (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math) is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, with a combined score ranging from 400 to 1600. The optional essay is scored separately.
  • Length: The SAT takes 3 hours without the essay, or 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay. The SAT provides more time per question than the ACT.

ACT: 

  • Content: Includes four sections: English, math, reading, and science reasoning, with an optional essay. 
  • Scoring: Each of the four sections is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The composite score is the average of the four section scores, also on a scale of 1 to 36. The optional essay is scored separately on a scale of 2 to 12.
  • Length: The ACT takes 2 hours and 55 minutes without the essay, or 3 hours and 35 minutes with the essay.

A “good” SAT or ACT score can be subjective and depends on the context of the student’s goals, the colleges they are applying to, and the average scores of those institutions. However, in general, a “good” SAT is usually between 1300 to 1500 (with 1200 being average), and a “good” ACT score is usually 30 or higher (with 24 being average).

Colleges use entrance exam scores from tests like the SAT and ACT for several purposes in the admissions process:

  • Admissions Decisions: Entrance exam scores are used as a standardized measure to compare applicants from different schools and backgrounds. They provide a common data point that can help admissions officers assess an applicant’s academic readiness for college-level work.
  • Scholarships and Financial Aid: Some colleges and scholarship programs use SAT and ACT scores to award merit-based scholarships and financial aid. Higher scores can improve a student’s chances of receiving financial assistance.
  • Placement: Colleges may use exam scores for course placement, particularly for math and English courses. High scores might allow students to bypass introductory courses or place them into advanced classes.

Advising: Entrance exam scores can help academic advisors understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses. This can be useful when advising on course selection and academic support services.

At New Jersey Test Prep, we recommend that students start studying for (and get tutoring for) their college entrance exams at least 1 year before they plan on taking the test. This allows ample time to become familiar with the test format and question types.

We do not advise waiting until a few weeks before the test. The key to success is to start studying/practicing well in advance of the test date. 

 

Here is the recommended timeline for taking college entrance exams:

Junior Year

  • Fall: Take the PSAT for National Merit Scholarship consideration.
  • Winter: Start test preparation for the SAT or ACT.
  • Spring: Take the SAT or ACT for the first time. Many students target the test dates in March, April, or May.
  • Late Spring/Early Summer: Consider taking SAT Subject Tests if interested in colleges that require or recommend them (note that as of January 2021, the College Board has discontinued Subject Tests in the U.S.).
  • Summer: Review test scores and decide if retaking the test could be beneficial. Engage in further test preparation if needed.

Senior Year

  • Early Fall: Retake the SAT or ACT if necessary. September or October test dates are often the last opportunities for scores to be considered for early decision or early action applications.
  • Fall/Winter: Complete and submit college applications. Make sure to adhere to deadlines for score submissions.
  • Ongoing: Send additional score reports to colleges if later test scores are improved.

The SAT is offered nationally seven times a year: in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. The College Board does not impose a limit on how many times a student can take the test.

The ACT is offered seven times a year as well, in February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. ACT, Inc. allows students to take the test up to 12 times in total.

AP exams are administered once a year over a two-week period in May. Each AP exam has a specific date and time during this period when it is offered. Because AP exams are only offered once a year, students have only one chance per year to take any given AP exam.

 

While there is no limit to the number of times a student can take the same AP exam in subsequent years, it is unusual for students to retake an AP exam. This is because the courses are typically tied to high school classwork, and students move on to different subjects in the following year.

Registering for the SAT and ACT is a straightforward process that can be completed online. 

 

Registering for the SAT:

  1. Create an Account: Go to the College Board website (collegeboard.org) and create a student account. You’ll need this account to register for the SAT and to receive your scores.
  2. Fill Out the Application: Once you have an account, log in and complete the registration form. This will include personal information, high school details, and your choice of test dates and locations.
  3. Upload a Photo: You will need to upload a photo that meets specific requirements. This photo will be used on your Admission Ticket and on the test day to verify your identity.
  4. Pay the Registration Fee: Pay the fee for the test through the website. Fee waivers are available for eligible students, which your school counselor can help you obtain.
  5. Confirmation: After you’ve registered and paid, you’ll receive a confirmation with your test center and date. Print out the Admission Ticket you’ll need to bring with you on test day.

 

Registering for the ACT:

  • Create an Account: Visit the ACT website (act.org) and create an account. This account will be used for registration and accessing scores.
  • Complete the Registration: Log in to your account and fill out the registration details, including personal information, high school information, and your choices for test dates and locations.
  • Choose Test Options: Decide if you want to take the ACT with or without the optional writing test.
  • Upload a Photo: You’ll be asked to upload a photo that will be printed on your test ticket and used for identification.
  • Pay the Registration Fee: The final step is to pay the registration fee online. As with the SAT, there are fee waivers available for qualifying students.
  • Confirmation: You’ll receive a confirmation email with details about your test date and location, as well as your Admission Ticket.

The deadlines for SAT and ACT registration are typically several weeks before the actual test date. The registration deadline for each test will be posted on the respective websites: collegeboard.org and act.org. 

Late registration deadlines, which incur an additional fee, close approximately two-three weeks before the test date. Be sure to check the registration websites for more information.

Effective test prep strategies for college entrance exams are essential for improving performance. A few strategies that have worked well for our students include: 

  • Learning the test format: Familiarize yourself with the structure of the test, the types of questions asked, and the time limits for each section.
  • Creating a study schedule: Plan a study schedule that starts several months before the test. Consistent, moderate study sessions are more effective than cramming.
  • Using official practice materials: Utilize official practice tests and questions from the test makers (College Board for the SAT and ACT, Inc. for the ACT) since they best reflect the actual test content.
  • Identifying weak areas: Take practice tests to identify your weak areas. Focus your study time on improving these weaknesses.
  • Reviewing fundamental concepts: Make sure you have a strong grasp of the fundamental concepts tested, especially in math and grammar.
  • Improving time management skills: Take full-length practice tests in one sitting, under timed conditions that simulate the test environment. Learn how to allocate and manage your time for each section.

Signing up for tutoring: Find an experienced and supportive tutor to guide you through the test format, studying process, and mindset coaching needed to land the best score.

In short, no. Some students prefer to learn in a small group format whereas others prefer private tutoring. What’s “most effective” really depends on the needs of the student.

At New Jersey Test Prep, our small group courses cost $675 for 16+ hours of guided instruction. Our private tutoring starts at $95 per hour for individual tutoring.

Our students have seen up to a 400 point improvement on the SAT as a result of regular studying and test preparation services. We emphasize that most students can realistically see a 200 point increase if they fully commit to the program.

On the day of a standardized test like the SAT or ACT, it’s important to be well-prepared and to bring all the necessary items. 

 

Here is a checklist of what to bring:

  • Admission Ticket: Print out your admission ticket from the testing website and bring it with you.
  • Photo ID: Bring an acceptable photo ID. This typically includes government-issued IDs like a driver’s license, passport, or state ID. School IDs are often acceptable as well, but check the testing guidelines to ensure your ID meets the requirements.
  • No. 2 Pencils: Bring at least two No. 2 pencils with good erasers. Mechanical pencils are usually not allowed.
  • Approved Calculator: For the math portion of the test, you can bring a calculator. Make sure it’s an approved model according to the testing guidelines, and that it has fresh batteries.
  • Watch: A watch without an audible alarm can help you manage your time, as long as it doesn’t have a calculator or smartwatch capabilities.
  • Snacks and Water: Bring snacks and water for breaks to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels. However, these must be stored away and only accessed during breaks.
  • Extra Batteries or Backup Calculator: It’s a good idea to bring extra batteries for your calculator or a backup calculator in case of failure.
  • Layers of Clothing: Testing rooms can vary in temperature, so dress in layers that can be easily added or removed to ensure comfort.


Do not bring any prohibited items, such as cell phones, smartwatches, books, notes, or any other electronic devices.

Students usually receive their online SAT scores approximately two to four weeks after taking the test. ACT scores are typically available online within two to eight weeks after the test date. AP exam scores are typically released in early July following the May testing period. The specific date when scores become available can vary slightly each year.

To send SAT or ACT scores to colleges, you must log in to your College Board or ACT account, respectively, and select the option to send your scores to the colleges of your choice. There is usually a fee for each score report sent, unless you’re using the free score reports offered within a certain time frame after the test or if you’re eligible for a fee waiver. Scores are then transmitted electronically or mailed to colleges, typically within one to two weeks.

 

To send AP scores to colleges, you log in to your College Board account, select the AP scores you want to send, and use the score send service to designate the recipient colleges. There is a fee for each score report sent after the first free report offered at the time of exam registration. The scores are then sent electronically to colleges, usually arriving within a week to ten days.

Need DSAT, ACT, AP, or other test prep/college entrance help? We’d love to work with you. Contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation today!

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