Office Hours: Mon-Fri 7:45am - 3:30pm   |   (480) 834-7400   |   1460 S Horne, Mesa AZ 85204

Counselor's Corner

SAT and ACT Information

The SAT and ACT are two different standardized tests that high school students ought to take before entering college. Most four-year colleges and universities require students to take either the SAT or ACT prior to admission. Generally, universities will not have a preference as to which test a student takes. It will be stated clearly on the admission application if the university requires one or the other.

Comparison Chart
  • 33% Critical Reading, 33% Math, 33% Writing
  • Accepted nationally
  • Logic and Reasoning
  • Scores based on the number of correct answers, minus ¼-point for incorrect answers
  • Multiple choice with math grid-ins
  • Basic fee: $51
  • Late registration fee: $27
  • Fee Waiver* available for eligible students
  • Writing Essay
  • Mandatory
  • First
  • 25 minutes
  • 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Score Scale: Critical Reading 200-800, Math 200-800, Writing 200-800
  • Perfect Score: 1600 (2400 with Writing)
  • Pre-SAT: PSAT (Grade 11)
  • National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
  • My College QuickStart
  • 25% English, 25% Math, 25% Reading, 25% Science
  • Accepted nationally
  • Curriculum-based
  • Scores based on the number of correct answers; no extra penalty for incorrect answers
  • All multiple choice
  • Basic fee: $36.50 ($52.50 with the Writing)
  • Late registration fee: $23
  • Fee Waiver* available for eligible students
  • Writing Essay
  • Optional
  • Last
  • 30 minutes
  • 2 hours 55 minutes (without optional Writing)
  • Score Scale: English 1-36, Reading 1-36, Math 1-36, Science Reasoning 1-36
  • Perfect Score: 36
  • Pre-ACT: PLAN (Grade 10)
  • Career Interest Inventory
  • World of Work guide

*A note about fee waivers:

If you believe you are eligible for a fee waiver, call the Counseling office at 480-461-3222 and talk to a counselor BEFORE registering for either the SAT or the ACT. Do not wait until the last day possible to register. Also, fee waivers are not available for late registrations. Fee waivers need to be mailed, so please allow at least a week's time for the fee waiver to get to you after speaking with your counselor.

Which should I take?

In a word, both . College-bound students ought to take both the SAT and the ACT in the spring of their junior year. Then, students ought to re-take the test on which they did better in the fall of their senior year. Since the vast majority of schools—including the three in-state universities—accept both tests, it does not matter which score you report. Also, since the tests are substantially different, students who do poorly on one test may do well on the other.

What are the dates?

SAT Reasoning Test 2013-2014

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration (with added fee)
October 5
November 2
December 7
January 25
March 8
May 3
June 7
September 6
October 3
November 8
December 27
February 7
April 4
May 9
September 20
October 18
November 22
January 10
February 21
April 18
May 23

ACT 2013-2014

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration (with added fee)
September 21
October 26
December 14
February 8
April 12
June 14
August 23
September 27
November 8
January 10
March 7
May 9
September 6
October 11
November 22
January 24
March 21
May 23


The PLAN (pre-ACT) and PSAT are offered in the fall of each year, but the dates vary from year to year. You would need to take the test with a local high school because we cannot offer these tests to our students at this time. We have found that charter or private schools are more likely to allow you to take the PSAT or PLAN with their students than the bigger district schools. In addition, our sister school Sequoia Charter High School now offers the PSAT in Mesa. Ms. Newsom will send out e-mail notifications every year for this testing, or you can contact her directly at 480-461-3222, ext. 10644.   Check the official websites for more information on these tests: PLAN and PSAT .

How do I register?

Go to the College Board's website to register for the SAT. Be sure to use our school code of 030608 (or 030609 for AzDL). Go to the ACT's student website to register for the ACT. Be sure to use our school code of 030608 (or 030609 for AzDL). Be aware that you will now need to submit a photo of yourself at registration for both the SAT and the ACT. Your photo ID on the day of the test will be compared to your submitted photo to verify your identity. For the PSAT and PLAN tests, you must contact a local high school and ask to be included in their test administration. It is best to do this at the beginning of the school year. The PLAN is generally for sophomores and the PSAT is generally for juniors, but students in lower grade levels are encouraged to take both tests as well.

When should I send my scores?

It is usually a good idea to wait to send scores until after you have taken a test twice. You can pick the best score to send to your school(s) of choice. (If you do choose to send scores when you register for the test, keep in mind that colleges are usually good about only taking into account the best score they receive. However, it does not look good to have more than two scores of the same test sent to a school. Three scores smacks of desperation.) You will need to create an account online at the College Board or ACT websites in order to send scores after you take the tests.

How do I prepare?

You do not need to take expensive classes or buy books in order to do well on these tests. There's a lot of free information online, if you know where to find it. First, go to on the Test-Taking Tips page on the Counselor's Corner. I've listed some common-sense tips there for you. Also, check out the preparation websites below, all offered by the test-makers themselves. If you feel you need more help, check out a current preparation book from the library or buy an official prep book from the test makers. Then, and only then, should you look into a test prep class, and only if you plan to go to a highly competitive out-of-state school.

PSAT : Check out the College Board's online PSAT preparation info. If you look at the left side of the page and click on the links in the light-blue-shaded area, it will give you some helpful tips and study hints. They also have sections of a practice test for you.

PLAN : Go to the official PLAN website. SAT : Check out the College Board's online SAT Preparation Center™.

ACT : Go to the online ACT Test Prep site.

Do I need to take ACT writing test and is it important?
It depends on where you want to go to school. Some out-of-state schools require a writing test, so check with your school of choice to see if you need to take the optional ACT writing test. The SAT writing test is not optional, so do the best you can. However, keep in mind that a writing test is not currently required by the in-state and many out-of-state universities, and they do not use the writing test in their admission decisions. What about the SAT Subject Tests? Some out-of-state colleges and universities require that you take two or three of the SAT Subject Tests. Also, certain departments and colleges within the in-state universities require specific SAT Subject Tests. Check with your school and college of choice for more information.

To learn more about these tests, visit the official website: SAT Subject Tests .
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