Please note that COVID-19 has resulted in changes to college policies related to ACT and SAT that are ongoing and fluid. Multiple testing dates have been canceled, and each university/college system may have different responses. Please regularly check the websites of the colleges you may apply to. The University of California and California State University are no longer considering the ACT/SAT, however other systems are continuing to accept them. If you are considering applying to private or out-of-state colleges please go to their individual websites and talk to their admission advisors about their policies for students who are impacted by COVID-19-related test cancellations.
We continue to advise students to prepare for and sit the tests when possible.
OUSD is not currently hosting any ACT or SAT tests but other Bay Area districts are. You are free to register and take either test at any available test sites.
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. If you are considering attending college you should take the ACT or the SAT. There is a growing number of colleges that do not require either of these tests, but Ms. Hunter, Oakland Tech College Readiness Specialist, continues to advise students to seek out and take one of these tests despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.
You should talk to your Oakland Tech school counselor or the College and Career staff before making the decision not to take either.
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.
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 (In 2020 the ACT with writing was $68.00, the SAT with essay was $64.50 each SAT subject test was $26 with discounts for taking more than one on the same day. There are additional fees for services, changes, and special reports).
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.
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).
Both the ACT and SAT are scheduled multiple times during every school year, and over the summer. COVID-19 has resulted in many changes, so please check for current information on the College Board website for SAT and the ACT website as well as the Oakland Tech website.
Students commonly take the test during their junior year, but you can choose to take it at any time during high school. Talk to your Oakland Tech school counselor or the College and Career Center staff about the best time for you. Many students take the tests multiple times to give themselves a chance at scoring well. However, please note that some college admissions committees may look less favorably on your scores if you take it more than three times.
Both the ACT and SAT offer an optional Essay Section, or sometimes called Writing Section, that is completed at the same sitting as the main 3-hour long test. You will be given about 50 extra minutes to complete the essay/writing. While the essay/writing is officially optional, most colleges require it, so you should take the essay each time you sit the test. You cannot schedule the essay separately from the main test and schools that require the essay will not accept subscores from a test that was not taken with the essay/writing.
The SAT offers separately scheduled, optional SAT Subject Tests that are designed to measure your knowledge in specific subject areas. Each Subject Test is one hour in length. Some colleges require, recommend, or consider these Subject Tests, for specific courses or programs, Engineering for example, or for highly competitive colleges or for students who want to stand out from others or show particular strengths. Students can take these subject tests even if they have elected to take the ACT. Talk to your Oakland Tech school counselor or the College and Career Center staff about your particular situation.
You can choose to send scores from one or multiple sittings of the ACT or SAT to colleges. If you send scores from multiple sittings some colleges take the best subsection scores from all sittings of the test to create a “superscore.” Remember, schools that require the essay will not accept subscores from a test that was not taken with the essay/writing.
There are many ways to prepare for these tests and most people do. Becoming
thoroughly familiar with the structure and format of the test, becoming oriented to the content
and style of the questions, knowing and addressing your weaknesses in relation to the test,
creating and following a study plan, learning essential test content, and practicing test strategies
are all techniques that will assist you in achieving your best score.
Within Oakland Tech your school counselor and the College and Career Center should be your first contacts. They have a wealth of knowledge and multiple resources, including some free copies of test prep books to borrow, and membership in free programs (click on each to learn more EAOP, DCAC, TRIO, METS, and Upward Bound) that offer extensive college preparation as well as test preparation tutoring for those enrolled in the programs. Go to the College and Career Center to learn about becoming part of these programs, especially if you are a student from a low-income family, or are the first in the family to attend college. Many students join their invaluable cohorts in 9th grade, but they may have spaces for students in later grades.
Normally there is a free after-school SAT test preparation class available at Oakland Tech through People’s Test Preparation Service. Because of COVID-19, it is now online, please reach out to Ms. Johnson, Oakland Tech school counselor and coordinator for Oakland Tech’s PTPS class if you are interested in joining.
The PSAT, (Preliminary SAT, AKA practice SAT) is usually administered for free to all 10th graders at Oakland Tech and is available to all students. However COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation of the January 2021 PSAT exam in OUSD, the district will announce the status of later test administrations. It is an excellent way to prepare for the actual test (ask your OT school counselor to provide you with your responses from the test so that you can see which areas you need to focus on in your preparation for the real test) and it is the qualifying test for entry into the National Merit Scholarship Competition.
Both the College Board (the organization responsible for the SAT) and ACT, Inc. (the
organization responsible for the ACT) provide free online practice portals for both the ACT and SAT. They offer important advice, recommended practice schedules, resources, and opportunities to practice skills and tests:
The Princeton Review is a reliable source for paid test prep services for both ACT and SAT:
Kaplan is another reliable source for paid test prep services for both ACT and SAT:
Magoosh, a test-prep firm based in Berkeley, offers free access to practice tests for the SAT and ACT:
Practicing with real, official ACT or SAT tests is indispensable. Both are pencil and paper tests,
have strict time limits and other guidelines so having actual paper copies of tests and recreating the testing atmosphere for practice is beneficial to all test takers.
There are multiple websites available to learn more about steps to maximize your score on
the ACT or SAT for free, however, be aware that the sites we list below were recommended by
parents, not Tech counselors or College and Career Center staff and were created by private
tutors or companies who also offer paid services or goods on the same sites. We are listing
these sites here for the free content they generously offer, not for the paid services.
Check out the ACTION PLANS for the ACT and SAT on this private website:
This subreddit website is dedicated to collecting links to past ACT and SAT tests. (Links to tests are in the right sidebar)
The Internet is overflowing with websites, articles, videos, and blog posts covering ACT and
SAT strategies/techniques/tips. Here are two we are told are consistently trustworthy:
This website publishes free articles on strategies and techniques for the ACT and SAT. Start with the right sidebar, where it says “Improve With Our Famous Guides.” Take a look at both the SAT Prep and ACT Prep tabs.
This person specializes in making strategy-oriented videos, and her advice is usually good.
We have heard good things about the following online programs that charge about $100 for a year of access:
Some books are especially well regarded by parents and may help structure a student’s
We hope this information is useful to you and we wish you the best of luck in your test and
Please email us with any feedback: CMC@OaklandTech.com.