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PSAT, SAT & ACT

PSAT

11th Grade Students: The PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is offered to 11th graders at Oakland Tech. Tech administers the registration process and students will take the PSAT on-site at Tech. The Assistant Principal that will be overseeing the logistics for the PSAT is Ms. Casillas.  

Please note that starting in October 2023, the PSAT/NMSQT will be administered as a digital test. The College Board offers a short video about what to expect with the digital PSAT/NMSQT

For the 2023-24 school year, the PSAT/NMSQT will be offered on site at Tech on Wednesday, October 25th. 11th grade students who wish to take the PSAT should register using the link in the Bullhorn. 

10th Grade Students: The PSAT for 10th graders will now be held in the spring rather than the traditional fall occurrence. The Assistant Principal who will be overseeing the planning for the PSAT for 10th grade students is Mr. Bachicha.

Intro to the ACT and SAT

This is general information on the ACT and SAT, it is a starting point for your preparation. After reading, please consider scheduling an appointment with your ​Oakland Tech school counselor​ to discuss your individual circumstances. The staff of the College and Career Center also offer significant assistance.

The ACT and SAT are standardized tests, taken with pencil and paper, that measure your reasoning skills and overall readiness for college. They are administered at a variety of test sites multiple times each year. They are used by most colleges to make admissions and merit-based scholarship decisions. 

Since the pandemic, many schools have changed their policies on testing. The University of California and California State University are no longer considering the ACT/SAT – they are test-blind. Some private colleges and out of state schools will again require SAT scores after not doing so during the height of the pandemic. Other schools may be test-optional. In addition, some merit-based financial aid programs require or consider test scores. 

“Test-optional” means that a school allows students to decide whether to submit test scores, and if a student chooses not to do so, it won’t be counted against them. 

“Test-blind” means that test scores will not be considered by a school in the evaluation process (even if a student submits them). 

Students should talk with the CCC staff and their Counselor about the testing/no-testing strategy that is best for them given their college plans. In general, if a student wants to keep their options open, then they may wish to prepare for and take the SAT or ACT, and then that student can decide later whether to submit test scores.

The ACT and SAT examine your overall proficiency in English, math, reading, writing, and science that you have learned in high school. There is no high school class for these specific tests. Please see below for how to prepare for these tests and remember that extensive help is available from your Oakland Tech school counselor and the College and Career Center.

Registration and costs

You, or your parent/guardian, must register for the ACT or SAT and the Subject Tests (more on subject tests below). There are specific deadlines for each test date and limited seats at each site, so plan ahead. There is assistance available from your Oakland Tech school counselor and the College and Career Center, but you must seek it out. 

There is a fee for each test. Fee waivers are available for students who cannot afford the fees. Click these links for information on the ACT and SAT fee waivers and do not hesitate to talk to your Oakland Tech school counselor or the College and Career staff, they have further information about how to apply for this financial assistance.

More decisions

Those colleges that require, or consider, these tests will accept either the ACT or SAT and no colleges require both. Most students decide on which test to take by learning about the similarities and differences between the tests and matching those with their own preferences and style of answering questions. It may be wise to take a practice of both tests to help you decide which suits you better. See the chart below to compare the ACT and SAT and click here to read an online opinion piece about some of the differences and how to choose. (Please note that we are providing the link for the free information that this site provides).

Compare the SAT/ACT

  SAT ACT
Why take it
  • Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.
  • Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.
Test structure
  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • Essay (optional)
  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science Reasoning
  • Essay (optional)
Length
  • 3 hrs (no essay)
  • 3 hrs, 50 min (with essay)
  • 2 hrs, 55 min (no essay)
  • 3 hrs, 40 min (with essay)
Reading
  • 5 reading passages
  • 4 reading passages
Science
  • None
  • 1 science section testing your critical thinking skills, not your specific science knowledge
Math

Covers

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry, & Data Analysis

Covers

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry, & Probability & Statistics
Calculator Policy
  • Some math questions do not allow use of a calculator
  • Calculator allowed on all math questions
Essay

Optional

  • Tests your comprehension of a source of text

Optional

  • Tests how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues
Scoring
  • Scored on a scale of 400-1600
  • Scored on a scale of 1-36