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Please call us at (914) 400-8390 or email us at to learn more about our services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the PSAT and PACT count?

For the majority of students, the simple answer is NO. The tests should be considered practice and are designed to give students a feel for how the ACT and SAT are structured and how the questions are presented. Neither PSAT nor PACT scores are reported to colleges.

The one time that PSAT scores do count is for the very small group of students who hope to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Please let us know if you think that your child may qualify for this award so that we can tailor his or her tutoring plan accordingly.

What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?

Both the SAT and the ACT are nationally administered standardized exams used for college admissions. Almost all schools accept both SAT and ACT test results.

Though both the SAT and the ACT help colleges assess a student's academic accomplishments, the two tests are structured a bit differently from each other and reward different attributes. Guidance counselors and admissions officers often describe the difference between SAT and ACT this way: the SAT focuses on logic and reasoning in grammar, critical reading and math, while the ACT measures scholastic proficiency in English, mathematics, reading, and science.

Specifically, the primary differences between the SAT and ACT are as follows:

  • The ACT is a more time-driven test than the SAT.
  • The ACT includes a science reasoning test; the SAT does not.
  • The ACT math section includes more trigonometry and some advanced math topics than the SAT.
  • The SAT has a somewhat higher proportion of verbal sections, while the ACT is somewhat higher on math/science.
  • Neither test penalizes for guessing wrong answers, so all answers should be filled in.

The first step in your John Jay Prep relationship will be an assessment of your student's testing strengths and weaknesses to determine which test or tests is best suited to his or her abilities.

Should a student sign up to take the ACT or SAT with the optional essay?

You can register for either the ACT or SAT with or without the optional essay section (which has an additional fee). There are some colleges/universities, most notably but not limited to the University of California system, that require applicants to submit their score on the essay section. Unless a student is definitely not planning to apply to any school that requires the essay, it is safer to sign up for it. The  current trend over the past few years is to drop the requirement.

Note that on both the ACT and SAT, the essay score is separate from the composite score and appears last on the test after the student has taken all the other verbal, math, and/or science sections.

When should my child begin tutoring for the college entrance exams?

The answer to this commonly asked question varies by student and depends on their academic and extracurricular activity schedule, as well as their personal goals regarding college selection. We see students throughout the school year as well as over the summer in preparation for the PSAT, SAT and ACT. Please contact us to discuss the best time for your child to begin working with John Jay Prep.

What is the first step in preparing for the college entrance exams?

The first time you call John Jay Prep, you will speak with Ellen who will be your personal guide to the entire test preparation process. We will set up a one-on-one consultation during which we will discuss your child's personal goals and testing expectations and answer any questions you may have. In addition, we will give each student two diagnostic exams to complete (SAT and ACT), the results of which will be used to begin formulating a personalized tutoring and testing plan recommendation.

What time commitment is involved with preparing for the college entrance exams?

Most students will prepare for a minimum of 12 weeks for either the SAT or the ACT. At John Jay Prep, students are expected to devote about 3-4 hours each week (including tutoring time) to their SAT/ACT studies in order to gain the maximum benefit from the program. Our program is designed to ensure that students are practicing on a consistent basis, focusing on improving their weaker areas and maximizing their areas of strength.