Most teens planning to take the SAT or ACT schedule their test dates either after they’ve finished Algebra 2 or at least much of the way through the course. Do our preeminent college entrance exams really require advanced math knowledge for good or even great scores?
In a word, no.
My friends and colleagues at the National Test Prep Association analyzed all of the official SATs and ACTs released over the last three years to answer an ingenious question: What Would a Smart 9th Grader Get on SAT and ACT Math?
What would an A+ student who has just finished Algebra I and Geometry score on the SAT and ACT if she got everything right that she had seen in school and got everything else wrong?
According to my analysis, she would score a 29 on ACT Math (80% of the tested material) and a 700 on SAT Math (87%). And what if you added five high-yield advanced topics? Then she’d score a 31 on ACT Math (85%) and a 780 on SAT Math (96%).
Note that this analysis does not purport to say that the SAT is a better test or that SAT math is easier to master. What we understand is that both the SAT and ACT prioritize foundational arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and problem solving skills. Both exams intermittently incorporate different advanced topics, but both build even their most challenging problems on the fundamentals students learn over their entire academic careers.
Be sure to read the full analysis and share your thoughts!