23 October 2008

Goodbye SAT, hello ACT!

Well I did worse on the SAT than my previous time - a 1950 in Oct. 2008, compared to a 1990 back in May. I got the same score on the writing section (690) as last time but 20 points down on math (710 --> 690) and reading (590 --> 570). How could this happen, when I've gotten a 770 on the SAT Math level 2 subject test??!? Oh well it could be because of those pesky free-response questions or my inability to read the fine print. As for the reading section, often the reading passage questions tend to be so deceptive that only Valerie Plame could solve them...I kid you not, just ask anyone who's studied hard for the SAT (and eventually got a good or bad score).

Thus I have officially parted ways with the SAT starting today and will begin preparation for the much better and supposedly easier & more honest ACT. I picked up ACT registration materials at a college night held by my local school district and after finding my disappointing SAT score online I looked through the overview, and the ACT I think I can handle better. The ACT website (ACT.org) provides outline of the test, which goes in this order:
1. English (75 questions, 45 minutes) - questions cover both grammar and rhetoric. None of those pesky SAT "fill-in-the-blank" vocabulary questions! :D
2. Mathematics (60 questions, 1 hour) - covers most of everything from pre-Algebra to Trigonometry, similar to the SAT Subject Test in Math Level 2, again which I got a 770 score (on the 800 SAT scale)
3. Reading (40 questions, 35 minutes) - five passages organised into specific topics (i.e. humanities, sciences, literature) and multiple-choice questions. The ACT's description of this section makes it similar to the SAT reading passages section or any other reading comprehension test in general. But I hope that there are no "SAT Trick Questions" here with ambiguous answer choices
4. Science (40 questions, 35 minutes)- Unlike the SAT Subject Tests in Science, which test on the facts, the ACT Science section is more like a "scientific" version of section 3, with the main task to interpret graphs and other data based on basic scientific knowledge and reasoning.
5. Writing (optional) (1 essay, 30 minutes) - the optional and very last section of the SAT. It's a good thing that this is 5 minutes longer than the SAT essay, so I get more time to develop my ideas, something that 25 minutes hasn't given me an opportunity to do. Scholars have criticized the SAT essay section for not being reflective enough on real writing prompts that teachers normally assign.

And off to ACT prep I go! I will take the test 13 December, the last chance for me to take any SAT/ACT type test for college; deadline is 7 November (3 days after Election Day, to be easier). As I pointed out earlier, there requires extensive tutouring and "gaming the system" just to get above 2000 on the SAT! But the ACT seems more based on the facts rather than unnecessary junk "reasoning", so I hope to have a better chance there.

1 comment:

Zuodi said...

tsk. you know what's proven to work for SATs? amphetamines.

(or coke, if you've brave)