A crucial component of admissions to a university or college in the United States is the SAT standardized test. The SAT is comprised of three subsections: Critical Reading, cumulative Math, and Writing (which includes both grammar and a required essay). Taking the test overseas can be an ambitious endeavor, but it can also make an application more attractive to an admissions committee. In American schools, the SAT is considered as important as a student’s grade point average (GPA) .
The SAT is offered overseas six times a year: October, November, December, January, May, and June. Student can register online at satcollegeboard.org, which also provides a comprehensive list of testing centers overseas. Students can use this website to contact an international representative if unable to find a testing center in their particular location.
Most students are unaware that the ACT is accepted by the majority of United States schools. The ACT is made up of four subsections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Although the test is purported to be less challenging than the SAT, international students should consider the fact that the ACT English section is contingent on advanced mastery of the English language, and includes English idioms that may not be familiar to students who learn English as a second language.
The ACT is, however, more quantitatively based. Students who excel in logic-based deductive reasoning may find the ACT better suited to their strengths. The ACT Reading is more predictable than the SAT critical reading, and does not test on high-level vocabulary, whereas the SAT will always include college-level vocabulary. The writing section of the ACT is optional, which could be a deciding factor for international students. Students can register for the ACT at actstudent.org.
International students also have the option of taking an English language proficiency test, either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). When deliberating between English proficiency tests and US College board standardized tests, students should be aware of the following: colleges and universities will look more favorably on SAT/ACT results, and many schools will require an ACT or SAT score for admittance to certain programs.
SAT preparation and/or ACT preparation consultants suggest mastering the TOEFL at a score of 90 or higher before tackling the SAT or ACT. It is imperative for international students to familiarize themselves with high-frequency English vocabulary. It can be helpful to read classic English literature. International test takers will be confronted with advanced English comprehension, and familiarity with the manner in which US students are tested on comprehension is of paramount importance.
Practice ACT tests and/or SAT tests are also necessary for test success. College Board tests are heavy on strategy, which is developed by understanding all sections of the test. Free sample questions are available through a number of internet resources, including SAT Preparation Group’s website. Here at SAT Preparation Group, we are always providing new test taking tips and tricks to help students be successful in their test prep.
International students should be aware that the majority of US students take the SAT/ACT multiple times, and prepare as such. American colleges and universities are also trending towards the ACT Superscore option, which combines a student’s highest subsection scores to calculate a new cumulative score. A comprehensive list of schools that superscore can be found here.
The keys to ACT and SAT success are preparation, practice, and planning. International students should begin studying for the College Board tests in their first year of high school, and plan to take the test more than once. The more time and effort students can devote to preparedness, the better their chances for ACT/SAT mastery and subsequent success on a global level.
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