SAT causes widespread confusion


Emily Kercher

Fewer multiple choice questions, 25 more minutes, and a lot less common knowledg. So why did we switch from the ACT (American College Test) to the SAT (scholastic aptitude test)? Juniors at West Ottawa are taking on the SAT for the first year, and for most of the current junior class the test is foreign. An anonymous Jr. at West Ottawa said “I’m really confused because I feel like they’re making it hard on us for no reason. If I knew the reason for the change and it was legitimate then I would feel better about all the extra effort to understand the test. I’m scared because I don’t know how to study for this.” Which seems to be a common theme for students around WO who are new to the SAT test.

Here are some answers to common SAT questions:

Probably one of the most common questions about this drastic switch is “Why?” According to Kyle Feldscher “The Michigan Department of Education announced the SAT won a three-year, $17.1 million contract to be the state-administered college entrance exam. The state is required by law to provide a college entrance exam for free to Michigan high school juniors and, since 2007, that test has been the ACT.” Because we get money from the state to fund the tests for students so we can take it for free, the state gets to decide which test they’ll administer. The SAT test granted money for a three year contract and that is the reason we have it.


The second question to this confusion is “How is the test different…if it even is different?” Yes the test is definitely different. The ACT tests over English (45 min), reading (35 min), science (35 min), math (60 min), and writing (30 min); while the SAT tests over writing and language (35 min), reading (65 min), math (80 min), and an optional essay portion for 50 minutes. So basically the SAT is longer, but tests over a smaller variety of subjects.



 Once the test is complete the scores become the focus. The ACT the scoring ranges from 1-36. The SAT ranges from 400-1600 (the higher numbers being the best). It all depends on the colleges when it comes to what is good and what is bad  A 23 on the ACT or a 1800 on the SAT may be above average at one university but below average at another. The higher the score, the more options you can choose from.


All WO parents that have an email were emailed a power point presentation explaining the transition and comparing the tests. The SAT does not penalize students for wrong answers either. All juniors are equipped with a PSAT packet which was received in Seminar already, on Wednesday, the 14th, there will be the actual PSAT test which is a pretest to the SAT which will be taken in the spring. They are providing free practice to the already free test as well. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses scores on the SAT to qualify students who are then considered for National Merit Scholarship competition. Recognition by the National Merit program can often help to get scholarships as well.


The SAT will be different and new but it shouldn’t be an excuse for students not to be prepared and not to do their best. Review and preparation materials are given out and multiple links to review sites as well. Although it might be beneficial to still take an ACT test considering colleges are still looking for those scores, the focus for our WO juniors this year is the SAT.