What Should Be My Strategy For Standardized Testing
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What Should Be My Strategy For Standardized Testing

Admission Counselling :
  • Written by UnivAdmitHelp
  • Category: Insights & Information
  • Published on 24 Jun 2024

What is Standardized Testing?

Standardized Testing is an assessment mechanism which is administered under standardized conditions, which remain the same for all the test-takers across all the millions of tests taken. Thus the scores are comparable across all the tests taken and can be taken as a standard measure of a student's aptitude across the parameters of the test.The examples of standardized tests are the Scholastic Assessment Test and American College Testing , popularly known as SAT and ACT respectively.

The SAT is scored at 1600 points whilst the ACT has a maximum score of 36. A comparison table will help us understand the differences between the two standardized testing methods -






Evidence based Reading and Math

English, Math, Reading and Science

Total Score

1600- 800 for each section

36 (average of four test scores)


7  times a year (usually)

6 times a year (usually)

Test Centers in India

College Board SAT Test Centers

ACT Test Centers


Tracing its origin from Imperial China, the Han dynasty chose the creme de creme using an examination system called “Keju”. Slowly but surely standardized testing became an inevitable format to ensure merit based selections , evolving from the 19th Century Britain and United States , to military recruitment in world war I in the 20th century and making its presence prominent in the late 20th century

Present times

The standardized tests , SAT / ACT are an important cog in the wheel of the US admission process. Also used by a large number of schools from across the world, including the liberal art colleges from India.

Today, though many prominent universities in the US such as UC Berkeley, UC  Los Angeles, Reed College, Washington state university are test blind  and Ivy's  such as Columbia and Harvard adapting to test optional, the notion of standarised testing is constantly under question. Accessibility and inclusiveness being the most ardent factors questioning the practice.

Despite this, standardized testing remains a significant aspect of education. Students often have questions such as:

  • When should I take the SAT/ACT?
  • How much time should I dedicate to  preparing ?
  • Is coaching necessary?
  • How much practice is recommended?
  • Should I take both the tests?                                                                                  

This blog aims to clarify these questions in the context of standardized testing.

Let's answer the questions one by one-

  • When Should I take the test? 

 Preparation for admissions in your dream college starts as early as grade 9.  It is  however not recommended to start preparing for the test, since at that grade you are yet to attain the maturity in the subjects that are a part of the test. It's advisable to wait until 11th grade when most of these topics are covered in school, thus minimizing preparation time and stress. Let's take the case of Math , which covers Algebra, Trigonometry and Geometry . These topics will be a part of your school curriculum. This gives you the chance of taking  advantage of time and helps you focus and invest more time on the other extremely crucial aspects of the U.S admissions process such as your extracurriculars, projects, volunteer work and profile building via personal essays.

  • How much time should I devote to preparing?

 A pertinent question. The US admission process is holistic and expects its cohort to be beyond just academics. Whilst the SAT’s are one of the core aspects of the application process, students need their time and sincere devotion in creating their holistic profile conveyed through the Essays, enrich their experience through Extracurricular Activities, Volunteer Work, honing their Leadership Sills in order to avoid being just another face in the crowd.

As suggested earlier in the blog, a student attains maturity in the topics covered in the SAT’s by grade XI.  Most of the topics are typically covered in the school. A couple of practice tests will help you navigate the nuances of the SAT’s in an efficient way and help bear effective results.

  • Is coaching necessary? 

Coaching does have its advantages, such as - structured learning expert guidance, customized study plan, practice . The factors to consider however are - Budget and time management.  It is more of a personal choice rather than a pressing need.

  • How much practice is recommended?

We recommend 4-6 weeks of preparation, The school resources provide you requisite ammunition for the standardized tests. A few practice papers a week or so before will be helpful. For instance Khan Academy resources are available for free. The primary focus is on readiness rather than preparation 

  • Should I register for both the standardized tests? 

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's often beneficial to consider taking the ACT in addition to the SAT. This will give you the opportunity to choose the best score and register it in your applications to brighten your chances of selection

The effect of Test Blind and Test optional -

With the intent of  Inclusiveness and Accessibility (lets face it, the SAT may not suit every capable student's pocket), the US admission process is undergoing certain changes. All nine undergraduate campuses in the University of California have adopted the Test Blind policy for all its students. The other prominent colleges are Reed, Hampshire College, California state university system.

Test optional gives as the name suggests, the option to submit the SAT/ACT score. As a student, if you have made the cut for the expectation from the college you have applied to, adding the SAT/ACT score will increase your chances for admission. On the other hand, if your performance on these tests have been sublime, you have the option to uncheck the box.

Breaking News !!!

SAT is now digital. It is, in person, you can now however skip the No. 2 pencil since you have to register your answers on the computer.  

The duration of the Test has been reduced to 2 hrs and 14 mins as against the 3 hour test. Thanks to the shortened passages 

Calculators can now be used for both Math sections!

In Conclusion -

Despite the growing adoption of test-blind and test-optional policies, standardized tests remain an integral part of the U.S. admission process. The timing and manner of preparation depend on the individual's understanding of the test and their readiness. Utilizing school resources to the fullest can help you prepare effectively for standardized tests and allow you to focus on other important aspects of the U.S. admission process.