Grade 11

Preparing for the SAT/ACT tests – 1

In this section you can:

The Expert View

Find out how to start preparing you SAT/ACT tests


Read this to get the complete picture…

A short overview

So you have decided to take a standardized test, either SAT or ACT. Where do you start?

The first thing you should know is that standardized testing is very different from the IB. Both the SAT and ACT are  multiple choice tests of math and English. They are a series of short, timed sections.

What this means is that you need to practice. Not only do you need to familiarize yourself with the content, but you also need to familiarize yourself with the timing of the test.


Some critical questions that need to be asked

Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.

question 1:

Am I well-motivated to do self-study?

question 3:

Do I need help?

question 2:

Have I made a timeline that will allow me to be properly prepared to test?

The SAT Tests

SAT Reading Test
  • 52 multiple choice question
  • 65 minutes
  • Measures ability to understand written text
  • Passages or pairs of passages (literature, historical documents, social sciences and natural sciences)
SAT Writing and Language Test
  • 44 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes
  • Measures the interpretation, analysis and  evaluation of a text
  • Grammar, vocabulary in context and editing skills
SAT Writing and Language Test
  • 58 multiple-choice questions (divided up into a 20 question no calculator section and a 38 question with calculator section)

  • 80 minutes (25 minutes for the no calculator section and 55 minutes for the with calculator section)

  • Measures mathematical skills students have typically acquired in courses taken up to the beginning of grade 12 – problem solving, data analysis and equations

  • Algebra one and two, geometry and some trigonometry

Average SAT Score

Good SAT Score

Excellent SAT Score

Preparing for the SATs

First up, take a look athese short, Khan Academy videos. They will give you a strong overview of the different tests:

SAT Reading Test

SAT Math Test

SAT Writing & Language Test

Now you have seen the short overview videos, it is time to get stuck into the detail of how to approach the questions and maximize your score with this video:

Action ideas

Things you can do that will make a big difference.

action 1:

Check to see if your university or college requires SAT or ACT

action 3:

Have a close look at the content of both SAT and ACT, and then figure out which one suits you best.

action 5:

After you have identified your test dates, start preparing.

action 2:

Go onto the university website and find out approximately what score they require

action 4:

Working backwards from your university application deadline during grade 12, make a list of SAT and ACT test dates.

The ACT Tests

The ACT is a standardized test that measures a student’s skills in three core areas: English, Math, Reading plus also Science. The score range for each of the four multiple-choice tests is 1–36.

ACT English Test

Timing: 45 minutes
Format: 75 questions

The ACT English test puts an student in the position of a writer who makes decisions to revise and edit a text. Short texts and essays in different genres provide a variety of rhetorical situations.

ACT Reading Test

Timing: 35 minutes
Format: 40 questions

The ACT reading test measures the ability to read closely, reason logically about texts using evidence, and integrate information from multiple sources.

ACT Writing Test (Optional)

Timing: 40 minutes
Format: 1 Essay

The optional ACT writing test is an essay test that measures writing skills taught in high school English classes and entry level college composition courses.

ACT Math Test

Timing: 60 minutes
Format: 60 questions

The ACT mathematics test assesses the skills students typically acquire in courses taken up to the end of grade 11. 

ACT Science Test

Timing: 35 minutes
Format: 40 questions

The ACT science test measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences.

Average ACT Score

Good ACT Score

Excellent ACT Score

Preparing for the ACTs

First up, take a look athese short, Khan Academy videos. They will give you a strong overview of the different tests:

ACT Reading Test

ACT English Test

ACT Math Test

ACT Science Test

Wigsbury Frequently asked questions

Quick answers to the important questions

Can I take the SAT test if I have not done PSAT?

Yes. The PSAT is just a practice, and it’s optional.

What is the best way to prepare for the SAT test?

That depends largely on you. Are you the sort of student who can work well on your own? If you are, then you can use an online course or a book of past papers. If you don’t work so well on your own, and you need the discipline of a classroom setting and a teacher, then maybe you should consider doing a face-to-face prep course, perhaps during the summer vacation.

When should I start preparing for the SAT/ACT?

You’ll need to take your SAT or ACT during grade 11, and you need to give yourself a few months to prepare. Don’t waste your time and money testing if you’re not thoroughly prepared as you are unlikely to achieve the score you are capable of.


Can I take both the SAT and ACT ?

Yes. But you need to make a timeline, a plan. You need to figure out when the test dates are and leave yourself enough time to test.

How many points do I need to get to pass?

There is no pass or fail, you just need to get enough points to get into your chosen university.

How many points do I need to get into university?

This depends on which university you’re going to apply for. Go and look on the website of the universities you’re interested in and find a section called ‘freshman class profile’ you will see information on the SAT and ACT scores of their current freshman (first year students). This will give you an indication of what you need to achieve.

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