Recently, the Illinois State Board of Education replaced the ACT and PARCC with the SAT for state testing. This means that the state will provide the SAT to students in Grade 11 and use the results for school accountability. Students are still able to sign up for ACT exams on Saturdays, and colleges will continue to accept both exams in the admissions process. Here are some other frequently asked questions about the change to SAT and their answers:
When will the test be given at H-F?
There are two all-school test days this year at H-F:
• Wednesday, Oct. 19
Grade 9 PSAT 8/9
Grade 10 PSAT
Grade 11 PSAT/NMSQT
Seniors do not test; scores will be available approximately Dec. 15.
• Wednesday, April 5
Grade 9 PSAT 8/9
Grade 10 PSAT 10
Grade 11 SAT
Seniors do not test; scores will be available approximately June 1.
How will scores be reported?
There are two main parts to the SAT: the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (ERW) and Math sections. Each of these are assigned a score of 200-800. The student’s total score is the sum of these two tests. Please see the concordance table on this page for equating ACT and SAT scores.
How will H-F prepare students?
First, H-F’s philosophy of education is unchanged: engagement in rigorous content courses is the primary source of learning and growth. As much as possible, teachers will keep the focus on day-to-day instruction of content. Courses should be rich academic experiences, which ultimately form the bulk of students’ scores. The second component is to make sure that students understand the SAT exam and its format. Teachers will incorporate instruction and practice on SAT-style questions into instruction on a regular basis. Our goal is for this to organically extend the content, not supplant it. Students should learn common tasks, items and strategies, as well as get some practice with SAT-style questions. The third component is communications and outreach to students to inform and connect them to resources. This consists of upcoming programs that will teach about the new test, help establish Khan Academy accounts and create study plans. We also encourage all students to enroll in test prep at least once in order to maximize their scores. Here’s a summary of actions currently being taken at H-F:
- Complete a regular review of curriculum and content standards
- Identify SAT on Scope and Sequence documents, where SAT content is at the focus of instruction
- Revise department reading and math test prep plans to incorporate SAT-style questions and strategies for the exam
- Analyze/revise school-wide literacy and math initiatives
- Establish an inventory of all department supports and recommendations for struggling students
What resources are available for students?
In addition to revising the SAT, the College Board has built a start-to-finish support system that is free for all students to access. There are personally customized instructional videos with practice through Khan Academy, which are based on students’ actual test performances. In addition, students will be able to apply to universities and for scholarships with greater ease. There are a host of additional benefits to support students from low-income families, including four free college applications and retesting possibilities. H-F is also extending its Viking Test Prep program to include the SAT; this will run prior to both the fall and spring tests. Juniors are especially encouraged to sign up for both fall and spring sessions in order to have maximum preparation for the PSAT, which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test at Grade 11, and for the SAT in the spring.
Is the SAT harder than the ACT?
It shouldn’t be. We will know with much more certainty after we’ve had more students take the new SAT, which was redesigned last school year. In the meantime, we believe students generally will not see large differences in their ACT and SAT scores. As the exams have evolved throughout the years, they’ve become much more similar.
Should my student still take the ACT?
This is a matter of personal preference. For students who have already based their college application process around the ACT (mostly seniors), they are recommended to continue to try and gain the best score possible on that test. Since SAT has better resources for students and the school’s focus will be shifting towards the SAT, underclassmen should focus their energy on the SAT/PSAT exams. However, there is no harm in taking the ACT, as well. You can view optional ACT dates by clicking here.
For more information on the transition to SAT, please contact Dave Kush, department chair of Assessment, at 708-335-5585.