My son is a sophomore.  What are all of the things I need to know about these tests?  I have heard some things that I have no verification of, such as pretty much all colleges take either so find out which one a student performs better on and stick with that one going forward and dump the other one.  Good advice?  I think I read something about colleges combining SAT scores if you take it too many times vs. taking the best score if you don't take it too many times.  I can't find any information regarding that and don't know if there is any truth to it.  When should he take them?  His school guidance counselor said Spring of sophomore year.  This is my oldest son so it is my first time going through the process.  No detail is too elementary to mention.  Thanks in advance.

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As far as schools and how they take in the tests there are a lot of different ways.   There are schools where these tests are optional, more than you may think.  You are probably too early in the identification of schools to see if they don't require the tests so its probably best that you do take the SAT or ACT.  Schools can not find out your results though unless you send them (unless I missed something....).   My general impressions are that most schools that require ACT or SAT will super score the SAT and some super score the ACT.  What super score means is they take the best results from different tests and put them together - for instance if on your first SAT you get a 600 reading/writing and a 650 math and the next time you take it you get a 650 reading/writing and a 600 math, then each individual test score totals a 1250 but the super score would be a 1300 - 650 Math from 1st test and 650 reading writing from 2nd test.  Holy crap that was a run on sentence.... You can take these exams as many times as you want and just pick the two tests to combine to super score. Since your son is a sophomore he will get the opportunity to take practice exams.  I suggest he try's both exams and if you all agree one seems to work better for him start focusing on that one.    Get this part down first and then later on you can start focusing on D1 or D3 talent but scores will matter more for D3 in my opinion.

Some schools that don't require the tests for admissions will usually require them for certain majors. My son took the SAT, I've heard that there are some changes coming to the ACT so you may want to find out what those are.

The first time my son took the SAT he didn't study, based on his results and the schools he was targeting we got a good idea of what and how much test prep to do. Some schools will list right on their website what score is needed for certain merit scholarships, so you can easily figure out the ROI  of the type of test prep. In most cases a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of test prep can save you tens of thousands of dollars later on.

These tests are given on Saturday mornings, 7 times each year.  In spring, summer, and early fall, Saturdays are baseball days.  Look at the schedules for both SAT and ACT, and figure out when your son will not have a baseball conflict - there will probably be only a few dates, in November-February.  Do them both this winter, then focus on the one he does better, to take again junior year.  By that time you may have a better idea of who is recruiting him, what score they will want, and whether he needs extra work to get that score.

For your first question, yes it is a good strategy to try to determine the exam your son fares better on, then focus on that exam and try to improve his score.  For my son, we used a test prep academy that administered both ACT and SAT practice exams, then they determined that he was more adept at the ACT, then we focused tutoring on the ACT only.  It helped a great, great deal and was some of the best money spent - it provided more "return on investment" than his baseball scholarship for sure!

If you just google ACT Superscore or SAT Superscore you'll find plenty of information.   Basically it is a composite score that is made up of the student's best individual section test scores across all ACT or SAT exams (as applicable) that he/she took.  It often results in a higher overall score because you're taking the best score on each individual section from all exams taken.

Some schools have an admissions policy to "superscore" the SAT or ACT.  It is not a formal designation made by the testing agencies, just an institution's choice.  To my knowledge, it has nothing to do with how many times the student took the exam (although by definition you can only superscore if you there is more than 1 test result).

As to timing, generally speaking the sooner the better.  You don't have to report scores unless you want to, so taking it early to see how he fares and to get him acclimated is a good idea.  Also, for baseball recruiting purposes it is good to have test results "at the ready" if any when an interested coach requests them.  So Sophomore year for sure, so you have results by the summer before Junior year.  Then re-take in Junior year to try to increase the score.

Our advice to our son was - don't ask us why - we don't make the rules - but these test results are very important for admission and academic (merit) scholarship purposes.  So let's put a plan in place and let's do formal tutoring to help you get the best score possible.  It worked out well for him.

Good luck!

My son improved his score 160 points after a private tutor taught him how to prepare for and take the test. My daughter took a SAT prep class and nailed the first attempt. My son is bright. But the Alfred E Neuman, “What? Me worry” approach didn’t work the first time around. 

I probably shouldn’t have told my kids I scored a 1270 in my first attempt with a hangover after five hours of sleep. I don’t think my son took the first attempt seriously. My daughter takes everything seriously. 

I skimmed the responses and apologize if I am repeating something. 

ACT, if you're good at science, take it.  If not, the science component can really skew the score in the negative. 

Depending on the level of math you son is taking as a sophomore, it might make sense to take it in the spring.  You want them to have completed Algebra 2 if possible because there is a lot of that on the SAT. If he's taking it this year, have him take it while it's fresh.

Test prep is key.  One daughter did Kaplan classes at school. Did well. The second daughter did an online course which was FaceTime and met every Sunday for about 6 weeks from 1-4 pm I think. She did fine, neither girls lit it up but got in the high 1200s.

Son did a tutor mostly for the writing component and the test strategy.  he nailed it first go-round with a 1300.  We made him take it again and he got it again.

Time management and test strategy are really important. 

So, depending on your kid, there are lots of ways to approach it. Superscore can be a savior.  Most schools do it, but there are still some that do not. Georgetown is one I recall.

Best of luck!!





Son didn't do the essay on the SATs, or subject tests. If you do the subject tests, you should do them right after you take the corresponding course in school. You'll need a 3.5 or 1270 or top 10% of class for a school to combine academic and athletic money.

My 10th grader took the pre-act at school yesterday. I’m not sure if that might be an option for your son. We’re going to see what areas it shows he needs improvement on & go from there. He felt like he ran out of time, so that will definitely be something we will have to work on.  From what I’ve read starting next year, once they’ve taken the test once, they can just take a section or two at a time on the next test. I think this will be great, because if they do poorly on a section, they can just study for that section and take it. The school my son is committed to Superscores, so I’m not sure how a school that doesn’t Superscore will handle this. Also not all schools require the written essay section & it is scored separately if it is taken.  

We are in the midwest and the SAT is pretty rare, mostly we do the ACT. I had my kids take it the first time when they were in ninth or 10th grade, just to see how it went and get a feel for the test. My daughter struggles a little with standardized tests, so after she took it once, she did a test prep class that helped increase her score. My son takes after me and buzzes through the tests on instinct. I did make him take it once more, but. . .

My feeling was we knew what score each kid needed to get into their school, once they hit that score, we stopped worrying.

It's always good to know the averages needed by both the schools you are looking at (general pop) and the team average on the standardized teams as well. Son who played BB (D1 HA) took SAT once and told score was "high enough."

My non-athlete 2018 took both the SAT (twice) and ACT. He scored much higher on both parts of the SAT on his second go round so he did not need to superscore. He laid an "egg" on the ACT. My younger son remarked that the SAT will throw you a "curve" here and there, but time wasn't a factor. He felt pressed on ACT as the number of questions versus minutes to complete test were difficult for him. Some HA schools require subject tests. It's amazing now to look at scores versus percentile. You can score a high 600 and have a percentile well below 70th; stacked deck- general population doesn't take these.

It's good to take the test early if you are a student athlete (if prepped). If your score is good, one thing off your recruiting checklist. If not great, you have time to better prepare and retake tests.

Agee with RipkenFan.   Figure out the academic competitive level then decide when is the best time to take the SAT or ACT.   I would advise anyone trying to play baseball at a HA (high Academic) school to take it sooner rather than later.   It is an opportunity to separate yourself from the crowd.

In our neck of the woods there is a PSAT test early sophomore year as starting point for standardized tests.   We used that as a guide to know what level of schools each of my 3 sons would qualify for.   Next was knowing what the starting point ranges are for specific schools.  Go to College Navigator ---> Select a College or University ---> Admissions to get the 25% and 75% percentile of the specific school.  This tells you the general student population ACT/SAT scores.  As you will learn on HSBBWeb there are different SAT/ACT numbers for student athletes, and every school is different in terms of the discrepancy or tolerance between general student population and student athlete.   

My oldest son took the PSAT which I believe was $0 at the time.  Then scored pretty well on the first SAT without studying as well as the subject test.   He had a number of offers, and one of the HA D1 schools wanted him to take it again to boost their numbers and his recruitability.  He self-studied with practice tests and did some stuff on Kahn academy and improved his score 150 points.   He ended up selecting a different HA D1 school that was more than fine with his first SAT scores.  I do not recall him taking the ACT .

Good luck!

These are the high-academic examples.  We have also heard stories of kids taking the test over and over during senior year, after the NLI, trying to get the minimum that the coach/school said they needed to be admitted.  It's best not to be in that position; take both tests early enough that you have plenty of time to figure out which works better for you, and for retakes and classes if you need them.

Goosegg posted:

Well that’s interesting news. I was aware of the section retesting option coming in Sept of ‘20, but didn’t put it together that that essentially now translates into super scoring for all colleges regardless of policy.  Ivys until now have generally NOT superscored  the ACT, and there are a handful of great HA D3 baseball schools that currently do not either (eg Emory).  Looks like that all changes next fall, in time for 2021 Class. 

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