Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I even need to take standardized tests?

50 percent of Liberal Arts Colleges are Test Optional

  • 5 of the top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges are Test Optional: Wesleyan University, Connecticut College, Lewis and Clark College, Washington and Jefferson College

National Universities that are test optional

  • University of Chicago, Wake Forest University, Brandeis University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, American

For a complete list of Test Optional Schools:

When should I start test prep?

4 Options for Test Prep

Option 1

Summer after sophomore year – (for possible NMSQT students)

Practice Test: between May and July and a score over 1300/28


  • Test 1: August/Oct/Nov/
  • Test 2: Dec
  • Test 3: March

Option to take again: May or June


  • Test 1: Sept/Oct
  • Test 2: Dec
  • Test 3: Feb

Option to take again: April or June

Option 2

Fall of junior year –

Practice Test: between May and October


  • Test 1: Dec
  • Test 2: March
  • Test 3: May or June


  • Test 1: Dec
  • Test 2: Feb
  • Test 3: April or June

Option 3

Spring of junior year-

Practice Test: before Jan 1


  • Test 1: March
  • Test 2: May/June
  • Test 3: August


  • Test 1: Feb
  • Test 2: April

Test 3: June or July

Option 4

Summer after junior year-

Practice Test: before June 15


  • Test 1: August
  • Test 2: October
  • Test 3: Nov/December (if not applying early)


  • Test 1: July
  • Test 2: September
  • Test 3: Oct or December (if not applying early)

Should I take the SAT, the ACT or both?

You do not need to take both.

All schools accept each test.

Check the policy of the school to which you are applying.

  • If the school super scores SAT but not ACT, you may want to take the SAT.
  • If the school accepts the ACT in lieu of the SAT Subject Tests, you may want to take the ACT
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Super-scoring: more schools super-score the SAT than the ACT (This decision is controlled by the colleges and is subject to change at any time. Checking the school’s website is the only way to know the school’s current policy.)

SAT Subject Tests: some schools that require SAT Subject Tests do not require the SAT Subject Tests when the student submits the ACT score


  • SAT extra time is added to each individual section (if given 1 hour to take the English Language, the student must wait that full hour before moving on to math) – SAT just made the process of getting accommodations simpler (yet to see if ACT will simplify their process as well) For the SAT accommodations, you do not have to be registered for the test to apply.
  • ACT extra time is added to each individual section (if given 90 min to take the Math section, the student must wait that full 90 min before moving on to reading) You need to register for the ACT in order to get the accommodation application process going. This is the link to the documentation on accommodations procedures (If the ACT ends up not being the of choice, you can just cancel the registration)



Cancelling of Scores

  • SAT – you have until 11:59 EDT Wednesday after you take the test to cancel your scores
  • ACT – If you ordered that your scores be sent to schools, you have until Thursday noon central time after the Saturday you took the ACT to stop your ACT scores from being sent to the schools.  ACT also has a process to delete a test from record.

Sending of Scores

  • SAT – scores are ordered and sent in a bundle
  • ACT – scores are ordered and sent one test at a time

***all of the above information is subject to change – the only way to know the current information is to visit the SAT, ACT or college websites

What is score choice: your ability to choose which test scores you want to send to colleges.

Which schools require that I send every test result?

  • Cornell
  • Georgetown
  • Harvey Mudd
  • Stanford
  • UC Berkeley
  • Yale

Do I need to take Subject Tests?

90 schools recommend or require subject tests-

Schools that require subject tests as of July 2018:

  • Cornell
  • CalTech
  • Harvard
  • Harvey Mudd
  • MIT
  • McGill*
  • Rice*
  • Tufts*
  • Webb*

Schools that recommend strongly subject tests

  • Duke*
  • Georgetown


*Asterisk means ACT will be accepted in lieu of Subject Tests

Most Subject Tests are taken in Math and Science.

There IS still a guessing penalty

Do I need to take the SAT or ACT essay?

Less than 10 percent of colleges require the essay.

Colleges that require the essay as of July 2018 (changing often)

  • Claremont McKenna
  • Manhattan College
  • Martin Luther College
  • Sam Houston State University
  • Schreiner University
  • Soka University
  • United States Military Academy
  • UC’s (Merced, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz)
  • University of Miami
  • University of Minnesota, Morris
  • University of Montana Western (only requires ACT with essay, not SAT with essay
  • University of North Texas
  • Wellesley College (only requires ACT with essay, Not SAT with essay)

Is there a certain month when the SAT/ACT is easier?

  • No they are all scored on a scale

Is my SAT/ACT score a good score?

Understanding Scores 2017 by College Boardprovides a percentage of each score

This score is equal to or better than this percent of National Sample

SAT     ACT = to or better than

950      18     38 percent

980      19     44 percent

1020    20      52 percent

1080    21      63 percent

1120    22      70 percent

1190    24      80 percent

1240    26      85 percent

1290    27      90 percent

1360    29      95 percent

1420    31      98 percent

1450    32      99 percent

1520    34      99+ percent

Will a perfect score get me into my top school?

  • No – Almost 2800 get a 36 on ACT now vs 89 in 2001

How is National Merit Selection Index Calculated?

  • More weight is put on the reading and writing
  • Drop zeros from the Math and Reading/Writing scores on SAT
  • Double the Reading/Writing Score
  • Add the Math and the Doubled Reading/Writing Score to get the selection index

What does Good Test Prep Include?

  • Content knowledge (MOST important)
  • Command of strategies
  • Emotional Control (Dodson Curve)
  • Optimal Test Management (pacing, specific strategies, specific content focus)
  • Confidence

Why do I have to take a practice test with EDNavigators if I already took one somewhere else?

I understand that students to not want to sit through another extra practice test an definitely do not want to make anyone’s life miserable. However, I have found that prep works best when the students take a practice test with me. When the students take a practice test with me I am looking at other factors than just the score such as pacing, fatigue, test anxiety, bubbling methods etc. Practice Tests are an important component of my prep method.

I wish I could say go ahead and just do prep sessions without taking a practice test, but I can’t do that in good conscience as I know that I’d possibly be missing something important in his prep.