Cracking the SAT/ACT Code


by Zeyn Sen, Grade 10 student

When I heard that the director of the Princeton Review was coming to SMUS to talk about the SAT and the ACT, I thought, “I might have to take those next year. It might be a good idea to go.” I’m in Grade 10, so these exams seem so far away. But in reality the time to take them comes so quickly that many students don’t get the best score they could. Attending Jay Rosner’s presentation inspired feelings of “There’s such little time and so much to do!”

The session was extremely helpful. It contained information on both tests, their differences, their formats and how to get the best score you can on them. He stressed a few points, including:

  • There is a difference between test-taking skills and academic skills. These tests are not scoring how smart you are, but simply how good you are at taking these tests. A straight-A student might score badly, while someone who struggles at school might find that they are very good at this particular kind of test.
  • Preparation is the key. To get the BEST score you can possibly get, you have to start studying approximately two hours per day, six days per week, for five to six weeks before you plan to take the test. Don’t begin earlier or you’ll forget what you studied and possibly jeopardize your current school work and grades, which are equally as important. If you start too late, it likely won’t be enough.
  • Plan to take the SAT or the ACT ONCE. The students who go in to the tests with the mindset of “If I do badly I can always take it again” are proven to get worse results. Also, many selective universities want to see ALL your scores, so you cannot choose to omit, say, your first two tries where you received bad results.
  • Decide early which test to write. As mentioned above, you will need to study a lot and do many practice tests and it is simply not realistic to do both.All in all, I now know so much more about the ACT and the SAT. In the future, I will definitely be attending all the information sessions that the University Counselling Department arranges, and I would recommend the same to every student, regardless of grade.

    Below, you can watch Jay Rosner answer some frequently asked SAT and ACT questions.

    Note: Princeton Review ACT test prep at SMUS begins on April 22 for June 9 test date

    SMUS SAT & ACT Test Dates (US applicants)

    Grade 11
    March 9 Registration deadline for April 14 ACT
    April 6 Registration deadline for May 5 SAT
    April 14 ACT
    May 4 Registration deadline for June 9 ACT
    May 5 SAT and Subject Tests
    May 8 Registration deadline for June 2 SAT
    June 2 SAT and Subject Tests
    June 9 ACT at SMUS (US applicants)
    Grade 12
    TBD SAT and Subject Tests
    October 27 ACT
    December 8 ACT


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