How do I sign up for the SAT and/or ACT during the 2016-2017 school year?
- Colleges are interested in your score on the SAT or ACT because it is an objective way to measure your academic strengths and weaknesses. Your score is a way to supplement what the college already knows about your academic record from your transcripts, and it gives the college a way to assess your readiness for college-level work. Many students take their first SAT and/or ACT during junior year. All colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT equally.
- SAT dates: SATs are offered on October 1, November 5, December 3, January 21, March 11, May 6, and June 3. Registration deadlines are usually approximately one month before the test. In addition, all Hillsborough County public school students take a free SAT during the school day during the first week in March, 2017. Some students choose to take additional SAT tests, either before or after the free test.
- Information about the SAT: Register for the SAT at www.collegeboard.com. This website also has sample questions, listing of test centers, tips on how to prepare for the SAT, and more. Cost of SAT is $45 without the essay, and $57 with the essay. Most students who are planning to attend a 4-year university take the SAT with essay. Free lunch students are eligible for fee waivers for 2 SAT tests & 2 Subject tests.
- SAT Subject Tests: SAT Subject Tests are one-hour long, multiple-choice tests administered by the College Board to measure your knowledge in particular subject areas. Florida public universities don’t require them, but many selective private colleges require/recommend that you submit two SAT Subject Tests. SAT Subject tests are offered in October, November, December, January, May, and June in 20 subjects. Check the websites of the colleges you will be applying to in order to determine if you should take 2 or more SAT Subject tests.
- Study for the SAT: The best way to study online for the SAT is through Khan Academy at https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat or study using paper-based study guides and practice test booklets.
- ACT Dates: ACTs are offered on September 10, October 22, December 10, February 11, April 8, and June 10. Registration deadlines are generally one month before the test date.
- Information about the ACT: You can sign up at www.actstudent.org. Cost of ACT is $42.50 without the essay, and $58.50 with the essay. Most students who are planning to attend a 4-year university take the ACT with essay. Free lunch students are eligible for fee waivers for 2 ACT tests.
- Study for the ACT: The best way to study online for the ACT is by getting on their website: www.actstudent.org. You can also use paper-based study guides (from book stores or public library) and free practice test booklets (from the Cube or Guidance).
- Notes on testing: Many students take both tests. Some students have a learning style that is a better fit for one test vs. the other. It is recommended to take the SAT and/or ACT once, and then re-test with the one on which they did better. Many (but not all) schools “super-score”, which means that they choose your best combination of scores when considering you for admission.
What are some good websites to learn about the college application process?
- Good college search tools: College Board: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search; College Navigator by the US Dept. of Education: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/; ACT: www.actstudent.org; and many others. For example, www.cappex.com allows you to determine your chances of admission based on GPA and scores, and http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/best-colleges provides rankings of colleges based on variables like “best campus food” and “best athletic facilities”. Of course, the most commonly cited list of rankings is at http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/data.
What are some good websites to learn about finding financial aid for college?
- Learn about how to apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships: Follow this link to a great explanation of the steps you’ll need to take to apply for financial aid and scholarships: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college. Learn the difference between need-based vs. merit-based aid. You will need to complete a FAFSA in order to qualify for Pell Grants, work-study, loans, etc. You will apply for need-based financial aid starting on October 1 of your senior year at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- Attend a District Financial Aid Night: These are held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at six different schools across Hillsborough County every year from the beginning of December to the end of January. Look at this flyer from 2015-2016 for more details: http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/docs/00/00/03/47/Financial_Night_2015_2016.pdf
- Investigate Scholarships: Explore scholarship opportunities through www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org (Bright Futures information), www.scholarships.com, www.fastweb.com, and www.studentaid.ed.gov, www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/portals/students.asp.