Preparing Your Students for Math Portions of College Entrance Exams and a Bright Future!

High School teachers and their students should be aware of the ins and outs of both the SAT and ACT admissions exams. Both of these exams are used by colleges and universities to decide if a student is eligible to be admitted into their institution. My goal as a high school math teacher is to be aware of the testing dates and keep my students practicing the skills needed to be successful on either or both of these tests. For the upcoming year, here are the testing dates for both exams during the 2020 – 2021 testing season:

SAT ACT
Aug 29
Sept 13(SAT In School), 26Sept 12, 13, 19
Oct 3, 14(PSAT/SAT In School)Oct 10, 17, 24, 25
Nov 7
Dec 5Dec 12
Feb 6
March 13March (Possible In School Dates)
April (Possible In School Dates), 17
May 8
June 5June 12
July 17
Admissions Testing for 2020-2021 Season

When a student asks me which one they should take, I always say both. Some students do much better on one of them than the other. The students should also think about which colleges they are applying and look at the requirements to help them decide which test to take. More urban high schools are paying for students to take the tests during the school day. This is an awesome opportunity and the students should take advantage. Another thing for teachers to keep in mind is that 11th grade students have an opportunity for recognition and scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship if they do well on the PSAT in October.

If you’re wondering how the SAT and ACT math portions compare, take a look at my chart below:

SATACT
2 Sections of Math:
No Calculator – 25 minutes (20 questions)
Calculator – 55 minutes (38 questions)
1 Section of Math:
60 minutes – 60 Questions
A calculator can be used on the exam.
78% Multiple Choice with 4 Choices
22% of the Questions are Grid-in
100% Multiple Choice with 5 Choices
Problems fall into 4 Categories:
1) Heart of Algebra – linear equations
and systems.
2) Problem Solving & Data Analysis
being quantitatively literate
3) Passport to Advanced Math
manipulating
complex equations
4) Additional Topics – geometry,
degrees and radians, trig or other
college and career ready topics.
Problems fall into 3 Categories:
1) Preparing for Higher Math
a) Number & Quantity
b) Algebra
c) Functions
d) Geometry
e) Statistics & Probability
2) Integrating Essential Skills
a) Synthesizing and applying
understanding to complex problems
b) Multi-step
c) Non-routine problems
d) Understanding connections
3) Modeling – This doubles with one of
the other categories. A question can be
both “Preparing for Higher Math” and
“Modeling” in other words.
Comparing the SAT and ACT Math Portions

Now that you know more about these two exams, it’s time to start thinking about how to prepare your students. Even 9th and 10th graders can take the SAT 8/9 and the SAT 10 if you school chooses to facilitate it. All levels of students need practice over these exams. These tests are not like what students are accustomed to. One of the best ways for a teacher to understand how questions are asked is to take some practice tests. Very quickly you’ll see how you need to up your game in your classes and ask questions in different ways.

In 2016, I became a teacher on an Early College High School Campus. This is when my interest in college readiness soared. I also felt bad that in my previous years I did not give much thought about these tests. In 2016, I was given a class of seniors that had never passed the TSI (comparable to the ACCUPLACER). I had no resources, so I started researching and soon found out that I was going to need to create my own. Once I got most of my students to pass the TSI, I began preparing them for the ACT and SAT. Again, I had to create my own lessons. I’m happy to say that I’ve got all of these resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I’ve got them in various forms. You can purchase bundles or individual lessons. I’m still enjoying creating these resources and I’m adding things as I go. My current project is ACT bellringers. I’m also adding distance learning resources so that no matter your situation, you can find what you need.

I’m glad you made it here. This shows that you are invested in your students. They rely on us to use our knowledge to advance their knowledge! I wish you and your students success and a happy future. Please check out my resources if you are limited on what you have available!

Other Related Posts:

TSI – ACCUPLACER READY

Study Guides for Math Portions of College Entrance Exams and College Readiness Exams

GETTING READY FOR THE OCTOBER PSAT

Are Your Students College Ready? 5 Teacher Challenges!

Resources:

TSI – ACCUPLACER Ready

I’ve put together a set of reviews both in PDF form and Digital Form for College Readiness Assessments. The reason for creating this resource is because I started teaching at an Early College High School about 5 years ago and I had no resources for my students to prepare them. I’m in Texas, so my students take the TSI. It is very similar to the ACCUPLACER. The purpose of the test is to see if students are ready to take a college math class or a college English class, but of course I’m focused on the math portion of the test. I found that students struggled on the test and needed more help. I decided to break it into 7 parts:

Packet 1 – Pre-Algebra Skills: (43 Problems)

Packet 2 – Equations, Inequalities and Linear Functions: (35 Problems)

Packet 3 – Quadratics: (45 Problems)

Packet 4 Radicals, Roots and Exponents: (37 Problems)

Packet 5 – Geometry Skills: (45 Problems)

Packet 6 – More Geometry: (24 Problems)

Packet 7 – Probability and Statistics: (25 Problems)

All 7 Packets come in a bundle AND I’ve started creating a distance learning version in a Google Sheets format. I’m over halfway finished with this bundle. This bundle also includes some Google Forms quizzes that cover each of the packets. These quizzes come separately too so they can be purchased with the PDF versions as well.