August 9, 2010

The school year is about to start and for many, it's also time to start thinking about standardized tests. Many colleges and university require SAT or ACT test scores as part of the application. Here are the test dates for the SAT and ACT in Taiwan this year.

 SAT Test Date  Early Registration Deadline Regular Registration Deadline 
 October 9, 2010  August 18, 2010  September 10, 2010
 November 6, 2010  September 15, 2010  October 8, 2010
 December 4, 2010  October 13, 2010  November 5, 2010
 January 22, 2011  December 1, 2010  December 23, 2010
 May 7, 2011  March 16, 2011  April 8, 2011
 June 4, 2011  April 13, 2011  May 6, 2011
 ACT Test Date  Registration Deadline Available Locations
 October 23, 2010  September 17, 2010  台北,台中,台南
 December 11, 2010  November 5, 2010  台北,台中,台南
 February 12, 2011*  January 7, 2011  台南
 April 9, 2011  March 4, 2011  台北,台中,台南
 June 11, 2011  May 6, 2011  台南
*The ACT Plus Writing test is not available on the February 12, 2011 date.

More information about SAT test dates and registration can be found on the College Board's SAT website. More information about ACT test dates and registration can be found on the ACT Student website.

Which test is right for you?
The SAT tests problem-solving ability. The ACT tests mastery of high-school curriculum.

The SAT is divided into 3 sections: Critical Reading (multiple-choice, 70 minutes total), Writing (multiple-choice and essay writing, 60 minutes), and Math (multiple-choice and grid-in, 70 minutes). Every correct question is given 1 credit, blank answers are given no credit, and each incorrect answer is less 1/4 credit. Each section is scored from 200-800 points, so the maximum score possible for the entire test is 2400. There is also an unmarked experimental section, which does not affect the final score.

The ACT is divided into 4 sections: English (multiple-choice, 45 minutes), Mathematics (multiple-choice, 60 minutes), Reading (multiple-choice, 35 minutes), and Science Reasoning (multiple-choice, 35 minutes), plus an optional Writing Test, which is a 30 minute essay test. Every correct question is given 1 credit, there is no deduction for blank or incorrect answers. Each section is scored from 1-36 points. There is also a composite test score that is an average of the four scaled scores from 1-36 points.

The ACT test is not as dependent on vocabulary and is more dependent on knowing the content taught in high school. Thus, studies have shown that students with limited English proficiency, students with high GPAs, and females tend to do better on the ACT than on the SAT. There is a concordance table on the ACT site that shows comparable SAT and ACT scores.

My advice is to look into the details (e.g., format, structure) of both tests and see which one you feel most comfortable with. Then, take practice tests (in simulated test-taking conditions!) for both tests and see how your scores compare using the concordance table. Finally, register and take the test you will do better on based upon the practice tests.

Do also keep in mind that there are 830 schools that are test-optional, that is, they do not use SAT or ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students in their undergraduate programs. A list of these test-optional schools can be found on the Fair Test website.