SAT and ACT Information

The SAT and ACT are two different standardized tests that high school students ought to take before entering college. Most four-year colleges and universities require students to take either the SAT or ACT prior to admission. Generally, universities will not have a preference as to which test a student takes. It will be stated clearly on the admission application if the university requires one or the other.

Comparison Chart



S A T

A C T

  • 50% Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, 50% Math
  • Accepted nationally
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Understandings
  • Scores based on the number of correct answers, no extra penalty for incorrect answers
  • Multiple choice with math grid-ins
  • Basic fee: $43 (54.50 with Writing)
  • Late registration fee: $28
  • Fee Waiver* available for eligible students
  • Writing Optional
  • 3 hours (3 hours 50 minutes with Writing)
  • Score Scale: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing 200-800, Math 200-800
  • Perfect Score: 1600
  • Pre-SAT: PSAT (Grade 11)
  • National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
  • My College QuickStart
  • 25% English, 25% Math, 25% Reading, 25% Science
  • Accepted nationally
  • Curriculum-based
  • Scores based on the number of correct answers; no extra penalty for incorrect answers
  • All multiple choice
  • Basic fee: $39.50 ($56.50 with Writing)
  • Late registration fee: $28
  • Fee Waiver* available for eligible students
  • Writing Optional
  • 2 hours 55 minutes (3 hours 35 minutes with Writing)
  • Score Scale: English 1-36, Reading 1-36, Math 1-36, Science Reasoning 1-36
  • Perfect Score: 36
  • Pre-ACT: PLAN (Grade 10)
  • Career Interest Inventory
  • World of Work guide

*A note about fee waivers:

If you believe you are eligible for a fee waiver, call the Counseling office at 480-461-3222 and talk to a counselor BEFORE registering for either the SAT or the ACT. Do not wait until the last day possible to register. Also, fee waivers may not be available for late registrations. Fee waivers need to be mailed, so please allow at least a week’s time for the fee waiver to get to you after speaking with your counselor.

Which should I take?

In a word, both. College-bound students ought to take both the SAT and the ACT in the spring of their junior year. Then, students ought to re-take the test on which they did better in the fall of their senior year. Since the vast majority of schools—including the three in-state universities—accept both tests, it does not matter which score you report.

What are the dates?


SAT and SAT Subject Tests 2018-2019

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline (with added fee) Online Score Release
August 25
October 6
November 3
December 1
March 9
May 4
June 1
July 27
September 7
October 5
November 2
February 8
April 5
May 3
August 15
September 26
October 24
November 20
February 27
April 24
May 22
September 7
October 19
November 16
December 14
March 22
May 17
July 10


ACT 2018-2019

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline (with added fee) Estimated Score Release
September 8
October 27
December 8
February 9
April 13
June 8
July 13
August 12
September 28
November 2
January 11
March 8
May 3
June 14
August 26
October 14
November 19
January 18
March 25
May 20
June 24
September 18
November 13
December 18
February 20
April 23
June 18
July 23


PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, & PreACT

The PSAT/NMSQT (pre-SAT) is offered in the fall of each year, usually in October, but the specific dates vary from year to year. The test is meant for sophomores and juniors. For juniors, it is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Our sister school, Sequoia Charter High School, now offers the PSAT in Mesa. Ms. Newsom will send out e-mail notifications every year for this testing, or you can contact her directly at 480-461-3222, ext. 10644. If you are unable to come to Mesa to take the test, you can arrange for your student to take the test with a local school.

The PSAT 10 is a test meant for sophomores and is offered during March or April every school year. You would need to arrange for your student to take the test with a local school.

The PreACT is meant for sophomores and can be offered anytime during the school year. As with the PSAT 10, you would need to arrange for your student to take the test with a local school.

Check the official websites for more information on these tests: PreACT and PSAT/NMSQT & PSAT 10.

How do I register for the SAT and ACT?

Go to the College Board’s website to register for the SAT. Be sure to use our school code of 030609.

Go to the ACT’s student website to register for the ACT. Be sure to use our school code of 030609.

Be aware that you will now need to submit a photo of yourself at registration for both the SAT and the ACT. Your photo ID on the day of the test will be compared to your submitted photo to verify your identity.

When should I send my scores?

It is usually a good idea to wait to send scores until after you have taken a test twice. You can pick the best score to send to your school(s) of choice. (If you do choose to send scores when you register for the test, keep in mind that colleges are usually good about only taking into account the best score they receive. However, it does not look good to have more than two scores of the same test sent to a school. Three scores smacks of desperation.) You will need to create an account online at the College Board or ACT websites in order to send scores after you take the tests. You can also do this when you register for the tests.

I heard that the SAT changed. How did it change?

Yes, the College Board changed the SAT as of March 2016. They made the writing portion of the test optional and reworked the test in other areas. You can find a detailed explanation of the SAT changes in our April 2016 Newsletter’s Counselor’s Corner. You can also visit the official SAT website.

How do I prepare?

You do not need to take expensive classes or buy books in order to do well on these tests. There’s a lot of free information online, if you know where to find it. First, go to on the Test-Taking Tips page on the Counselor’s Corner. I’ve listed some common-sense tips there for you. Also, check out the preparation websites below. If you feel you need more help, check out a current preparation book from the library or buy an official prep book from the test makers. Then, and only then, should you look into a test prep class, and only if you plan to go to a highly competitive out-of-state school.

Additionally, the College Board is partnering with Khan Academy to provide SAT prep. You can find a full sample test plus videos and exercises online at Khan Academy. For more information, visit KhanAcademy’s SAT website.

PSAT/NMSAT & PSAT 10: Check out the College Board’s online PSAT preparation info.

SAT: Check out the College Board’s online SAT Preparation CenterTM.

ACT and PreACT: Go to the ACT Test Prep site.

All Standardized Tests: Varsity Tutors: Free test-preparation materials for most standardized tests, including PSAT, SAT, ACT, Accuplacer, CLEP, and more.

Do I need to take SAT or ACT Writing test and is it important?


It depends on where you want to go to school. Some out-of-state schools require a writing test, so check with your school of choice to see if you need to take the optional SAT/ACT writing test. Keep in mind that a writing test is not currently required by the in-state and many out-of-state universities, and they do not use the writing test in their admission decisions.

What about the SAT Subject Tests?


Some out-of-state colleges and universities require that you take two or three of the SAT Subject Tests. Also, certain departments and colleges within the in-state universities require specific SAT Subject Tests. Check with your school and college of choice for more information.

To learn more about the SAT Subject tests, visit the official website: SAT Subject Tests.