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College Admissions Tests: SAT and ACT

Washington High SchoolACT or SAT

CEEB Code: 050972

 

FALL 2020: At the current time, UC's, CSU's and many other colleges are advancing new policies regarding these tests. Check the college websites for further information.

Information prior to Fall 2020:

Most 4 year colleges and universities require students to submit an SAT or ACT score with the application. While most of these colleges accept either test, some require one or the other, so check with the college for their requirements. For those taking the ACT, UC requires that the ACT Writing test be included.  SAT Subject Tests can be submitted for consideration just as AP scores are. 

FEE WAIVERS: Fee waivers are available in the Career Center for both the SAT and ACT that enable qualifying students to take the test 2 times. Check in the Career Center for more details.

NOTE: Community Colleges do not accept SAT/ACT scores.
 

SAT ESSAY SCORING GUIDE Based on a Six-Point Scale

Score of 6

An essay in this category is outstanding, demonstrating clear and consistent mastery, although it may have a few minor errors. A typical essay

  • Effectively and insightfully develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position                                                                                               
  • Is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas
  • Exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary
  • Demonstrated meaningful variety in sentence structure
  • Is free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

Score of 5

An essay in this category is effective, demonstrating reasonably consistent mastery, although it will have occasional errors or lapses in quality. A typical essay

  • Effectively develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates strong critical thinking, generally using appropriate examples, reasons, and other evident to support its position
  • Is well organized and focused, demonstrating coherence and progression of ideas
  • Exhibits facility in the use of language, using appropriate vocabulary
  • Demonstrates variety in sentence structure
  • Is generally free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

Score of 4

An essay in this category is competent, demonstrating adequate mastery, although it will have lapses in quality. A typical essay

  • Develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates competent critical thinking,  using adequate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position
  • Is generally organized and focused, demonstrating some coherence and progression of ideas
  • Exhibits adequate but inconsistent facility in the use of language, using generally appropriate vocabulary
  • Demonstrates some variety in sentence structure
  • Has some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

Score of 3

An essay in this category is inadequate, but demonstrates developing mastery, and is marked by one or more of the following weaknesses:

  • Develops a point of view on the issue, demonstrating some critical thinking, but may do so inconsistently or use inadequate examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position
  • Is limited in its organization of focus, but may demonstrate some lapses in coherence or progression of ideas
  • Displays developing facility in the use of language, but sometimes uses weak vocabulary or inappropriate word choice
  • Lacks variety or demonstrates problems in sentence structure
  • Contains an accumulation of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanic 

Score of 2

An essay in this category is seriously limited, demonstrating little mastery, and is flawed by on ormore of the following weaknesses:

  • Develops a point of view on the issue that is vague or seriously limited demonstrating weak critical thinking, providing inappropriate or insufficient examples, reasons, or other evidence to support its position
  • Is poorly organized and/or focused, or demonstrates serious problems, with coherence or progression of ideas
  • Displays very little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary or incorrect word choice
  • Demonstrates frequent problems in sentence structure
  • Contains errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics so serious that meaning is somewhat obscured

Score of 1

An essay in this category is fundamentally lacking, demonstrating very little or no mastery, and is severely flawed by one or more of the following weaknesses:

  • Develops no viable point of view on the issue, or provides little or no evidence to support its position
  • Is disorganized or unfocused, resulting in a disjointed or incoherent essay
  • Displays fundamental errors in vocabulary
  • Demonstrates severe flaws in sentence structure
  • Contains pervasive errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that persistently interfere with meaning

Score of 0

Essays not written on the essay assignment will receive a score of zero.


SCORING PROCEDURES

Each essay will be scored independently by two qualified readers, and each will be scored on a scale of 1 to 6 by each reader, with the combined score for both readers ranging from 2 to 12. (Essays not written on the essay assignment will receive a score of zero) If the two readers scores differ by more than one point, a third reader will score the essay.  

Compare the New SAT to the ACT

Taking the SAT is the best way to show colleges you have the skills and knowledge they want most. Find out how the new SAT, launching in March, compares to the ACT.

 

Test Snapshot

Features

SAT

ACT

Widely accepted

All U.S. colleges

Almost all U.S. colleges

Major redesign

2016 SAT is based on the latest research on the skills colleges value most.

No recent significant revisions.

Tests the vocabulary you’ll use

Yes

Yes

Everyday math formulas provided

Yes

No

Essay is optional

Yes

Yes

Penalty for guessing

No

No

Cost

$54.50 ($43 without essay)

$56.50 ($39.50 without essay)

 

Free Practice

Resources

New SAT

ACT

Free daily practice questions

Yes, the free mobile app, Daily Practice for the New SAT.

Yes

Free comprehensive test practice

Yes, through Khan Academy®, with over 4,000 questions and video lessons.

No

Free, downloadable practice tests

Yes

No

Mobile app that instantly scores paper tests

Yes, Daily Practice for the New SAT.

No

 

Flexibility

Schedule

New SAT

ACT

Test days

7 times a year

6 times a year

Regular registration deadline

About 4 weeks before test day. You pay a late fee for registering later.

About 5 weeks before test day. You pay a late fee for registering later.

Late registration closes

About 11 days before test day

20+ days before test day

 

Fee Waivers

Benefits and Rules

New SAT

ACT

Test fees waived for eligible students

Yes

Yes

Waivers cover late fees

Yes

No

Four college application fee waivers sent directly to eligible students

Yes

No

 

Test Format

Structure and Timing

New SAT

ACT

Testing time

3 hours
+ 50-minute essay (optional)

2 hours 55 minutes
+ 40-minute essay (optional)

Structure

3 tests + optional essay

4 tests + optional writing test

Number of questions

154

215

Time per question

1 minute, 10 seconds

49 seconds

Score range

Composite 400–1600 (SAT Essay: reported in 3 dimensions, each 2–8)

Composite 1–36 (writing domain scores: 2–12)

Test length and timing

Reading Test
65 minutes
52 questions

Writing and Language Test
35 minutes
44 questions

Math Test
80 minutes
58 questions

Reading Test
35 minutes
40 questions

English Test
45 minutes
75 questions

Math Test
60 minutes
60 questions

Science Test
35 minutes
40 questions