Here you will find all kinds of resources for taking and reviewing the SAT/ACT Diagnostic exam.
Get started with the "Before the Exam" section below, then feel free to take a look at the "After the Exam" section when you've finished.
Before the exam
- Overall, the ACT is a much faster exam than the SAT. Be very aware of time as you are working through sections, and don't spend too much time on any one question. This is especially true for the ACT Science section: it's often not the best idea to read all the information on the science because you will run out of time. Try skimming the passage for essential information.
- There is no penalty for guessing on either exam, so you should have an answer for every question. Keep in mind that this might slightly throw off your results, so somehow record when you starting guessing so you have that information when you review your report.
- The questions on the math sections get progressively harder. Spending more time on the earlier questions is often a good idea to ensure that you get them correct. The later questions will most likely take more time, and the accuracy on them is lower.
- The reading sections are very literal, so make sure you can point to a specific part of the text that supports your answer. Never infer anything on these sections.
- Use your ears on the grammar sections. If an answer sounds super wrong, it probably is.
Yes. If you are taking the exam online, navigate to your student portal and then to the account settings by clicking "My Account." You have the option of changing your timing at the bottom of this screen, under "Do you receive increased time on an exam?" Once this is changed in the profile, the system will remember it for all future exams.
You can, but it's not ideal. You want to simulate exam conditions as close as possible. Regardless of what exam you take, you'll have to sit down and concentrate for about the same amount of time as the diagnostic. Completing it in chunks might throw off the results.
After the exam
The diagnostic is not necessarily a prediction of how you will score on each exam, but was instead designed to highlight whether a student is better suited for one exam over the other. If your score on the SAT was lower or higher than you scored on the PSAT, for instance, that's totally fine. What you should focus on is how the individual section score compare across the two exams, and take your preference as you worked through the exam into account as well.
Not necessarily! There are still tons of insights to be gleaned for an equal score and recommendation. Start with how you felt working through the two tests: were you rushed towards the end of the ACT sections? How was the ACT science? Was the SAT math harder than the ACT math?
Often times, a recommendation for an equal score comes down to student preference. Note that the grammar sections -- ACT English and SAT Writing & Language -- are often the easiest scores to improve upon because of how repetitive the questions are. If you scored much lower on that section on one exam, you might consider studying for that exam because of the easier road towards improvement.
The answer and complete solutions for every question can be downloaded here. Make sure to only view these after you have finished the exam.