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ACT vs. SAT Test Selection & Testing Fundamentals

ACT vs. SAT Test Selection & Testing Fundamentals

Two one-week sessions
June 10– 14
June 24-28
9 a.m. – 2 p.m.  
Rising 10th through rising 12th graders  
$700 per session

What to bring: TI-83 series graphing calculator, notebook, writing utensils, water bottle, snack, and lunch with a drink 

At the core of all standardized testing stand certain principles and strategies that put students 
in the best position to succeed with the interpretive ability they’ve honed and the content 
knowledge they’ve built. Avoiding careless mistakes is not merely a question of focus but of 
approach. Guessing is not guessing when it’s done analytically. Pacing & prioritization must be 
planned and practiced. 

With two test options for college admissions, the ACT & SAT, identifying where a student’s skill 
set is best rewarded should be the first step. Months of preparation can be wasted if the wrong 
test is pursued. The ACT is the faster test with more advanced math and a data analysis section 
masquerading as science. The SAT provides students more time and a smaller set of math skills 
to study, but the reading is more complex, and questions are slightly more subjective. We use 
diagnostic testing, strategy introduction, high-yield content review, and 1:1 individualized 
support to determine which test a student should take and what skills must be addressed. 

Sample List of Skills Taught 

  • Pacing & prioritization 

  • Categorization of question types: see the test from the test-maker’s perspective 

  • Reading critically for evidence and tone 

  • Grammar rules recognition and application 

  • Breaking down hard multi-step math problems into easy individual tasks 

  • Understanding ACT Science: interpreting data tables, charts & graphs 

Syllabus Preview 

  • Diagnostic Testing in ACT vs. SAT to expose students to both test styles and determine better test fit and skill level across different subjects (Reading/Writing/Mathematics/Science) 

  • Testing foundations: understanding pacing, how to use process of elimination, the importance of showing work, using alternative methods to answer hard questions 

  • Changes and Updates to testing and how to prepare for the SAT’s digital format.

  • Evidence-Based Reading: reading with a purpose, differentiating explicit vs. implicit evidence, recognizing tone & characterization, when down to 2, what do I do?! 

  • English Grammar: core content (subjects, verbs, pronouns, oh my!), making language objective through sentence breakdown 

  • Math: what’s on the test, where are my knowledge gaps, how to avoid careless errors, how to break down multi-step questions, alternative methods when the formula fails, core content tested on both exams.

  • Science: avoiding basic errors in data interpretation, making deeper data connections 

  • Final Diagnostic Testing and Reporting 

Meet the Staff:

Top Score Education is a boutique test prep and academic tutoring company founded in 2004 by a proud Landon alum, Alex Chip. Over the past 18 years, Alex and his team at Top Score have prepared thousands of students (including over 100 Landon Bears) for success on the SAT and ACT. In addition to college admissions exams, Top Score offers students 1-on-1 academic tutoring for almost all high school subjects. Top Score Education is widely recognized as a leader in the DC metro region in SAT and ACT planning, preparation, and support. 

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