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US Counselor Updates: Standarized Tests

US Counselor Updates: Standarized Tests

Knowing whether to apply for the SAT, SAT2, or ACT tests comes down to which test best suits you.

Hui Qin

  • Former Arts Peer Mentor at The University of Melbourne
  • Former Global Officer at Monash University’s Study Abroad Department
  • Ranked in the top 10 percent of IB grades globally upon finishing high school
  • Visual Artist for MudFest (Melbourne University’s Art Festival) in 2017
  • Featured visual artist in Antithesis Journal Volume 27 and Farrago Magazine Edition 5 in 2017
  • Intern at Shanghai Daily and at F&T group
  • Multicultural upbringing with living abroad experience  in five countries to date

The SAT versus ACT Standardized Tests

I would recommend SAT or ACT to students depending on their strengths. I would also have them do mock tests for both SAT and ACT first to see which one they initially feel more comfortable with – please ask your counselor or progress supervisor if you need these mock tests. We also have SAT/ACT teachers available – please reach out in your Wechat group to ask if you are a Curio student!
For Chinese students, I would usually recommend SAT first. This is because ACT classes are currently not as widespread in Shanghai compared to SAT classes. As such, it may be hard for a student to learn in a group environment should he or she choose the ACT.

Below are some differences between the SAT and ACT to better help students determine which standardized test is more suitable for them:


* Student has more time per question – students can take more time to formulate and come to the right answer


* Students with strong critical reading ability can do well in the science section, may help them score better in the ACT compared to the SAT
* ACT is less vocabulary focused compared to SAT – may be good for students with a weaker vocabulary bank
* Math section is fully multiple choice, students who are not certain of an answer can take an educated guess at ACT math, but not for some portions of SAT Maths.

As of 2020, because of coronavirus’ impact on testing availability, more and more colleges are going test optional. FairTest has a great list of schools that are test optional and the website is updated daily – but as usual, please triple check on the college website!



Super Scoring is a great way for students to increase their combined scores; here is a link to colleges that allow super scores for the SAT and the ACT:

Here’s is a table that shows superscoring in practice (I’ll use the ACT as an example; the SAT is the same idea):

Concordance tables

For easy conversions of SAT to ACT scores, and vice versa.


SAT2s, otherwise known as SAT Subject Tests, help to show admission officers a students’ proficiency in certain subjects. Fewer schools are requiring the SAT2s nowadays, here is a list of schools and their SAT2 requirements


I would usually recommend my students to take SAT2s in June, right after their curriculum exams. The subject content overlaps with the AP curriculum, especially since they are administered by the same examining body (Collegeboard). Students can bring the momentum of their curriculum exams to SAT2 tests, thereby killing two birds with one stone.


Please discuss with your counselor as to which SAT2s may be most suitable for you, if any.

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