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SAT, ACT and IGCSE…what do they mean?
A common concern for parents of US college applicants legitimately centers
on required testing. At La Chât, one of the questions heard most often is
why are the students prepared for the IGCSE and not for the SAT?
The IGCSE is actually a two year course curriculum with a final external
exam. Specifics topics, pieces of coursework and teacher led instruction is
given. The IGCSE is similar to the IB in this respect.
The SAT (formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test – this term is no
longer in legal use) is a “one off” entrance test that all students applying to
US colleges must take – irrespective of whether or not they are doing IB,
Maturite, AP’s, the French Baccalaureate, A levels or any other curriculum
program. The SAT consists of three sections: Critical Reading, Math and
Writing. It is scored on a scale of 200 – 800. Most colleges look ONLY at
the Critical Reading and Math for Admission purposes. Therefore, you will
see scores given in a range of 1260/1600 or 1120/1600. These are also the
two scores used by the US and News and World Report ranking system.
The SAT Critical Reading section consists of reading comprehension and
sentence completions. The Math consists of basic numbers and operations,
algebra and functions, geometry and measurement and data analysis,
statistics and probability. The Writing section involves identifying sentence
errors, improving sentences and paragraphs and writing an essay. All of
this information and sample material is available from
La Chât offers free SAT preparation to all students via the Naviance
College Counseling software. Students can get their passwords from
Guidance. The best preparation is familiarity with the test, understanding
that you should NOT guess (points are subtracted for wrong answers),
borrowing a prep book from Guidance or the MMC, reading widely beyond
the curriculum and writing a well-structured essay. The English and Math
teachers can always answer questions and the Guidance office has many
materials. The SAT is offered six times per year, and Chât students may
take it at our LGB campus or the College du Leman. I recommend students
take it in January and May of Year 12 and then in October of Year 13. LGB
is open only for Ecolint Foundation students and, therefore, the code 59-
816 must be used for the test center. La Chat’s high school or CEEB code
is 796820.
Recently, more students often ask about the ACT (American College Test).
All colleges will accept the ACT or SAT. Neither is better; they are different.
The ACT has five sections: English, Math, Reading, Science and Writing.
The Science section is the biggest difference from the SAT and measures
“the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem-solving
skills required in the natural sciences.” More information and samples are
available at I have not found that our students do
substantially better on one than the other. My advice is to use the free test
preparation La Chat offers on Naviance and decide which is better for you.
I recommend that students take the ACT in April of Year 12 and October of
Year 13. The ACT is given only at our LGB campus.
The best preparation for all testing is to take challenging courses and work
hard; La Chât students are doing that on a daily basis!