When it comes to college admissions testing, schools start preparing students in the 8th grade for the SAT and ACT.  It is estimated that 2.2 million students take the SAT versus 1.8 million who take the ACT.  If you have a child who plans on attending college, we have some key points that we have found in our research and experience to guide you.  Click HERE.

Some colleges are test-optional or test-blind schools.  A test-blind college states that they won’t look at scores.  However, Laurie Genevish of My Ideal College says that, if a student has a test score on their admission application, it “doesn’t mean that they won’t look at it.”  She goes on to say that if a teen is not a strong test-taker, then go with a test-optional college or you can always get your child prepped for taking a high stakes test.  Reach out to Dynamis Learning Academy so your child can get the strategies needed to be a strong test-taker.  We have tutors who have over 20 years experience with assisting teens to learn test-taking strategies and score high on these tests.

Students should start their test preparation (tutoring) with a qualified tutor at least 4-5 months in advance of when they think they will take the SAT or ACT. However, if your child has already taken the test without preparation, we can use that information for baseline data before tutoring actually begins.  If your child has an accommodation of extended time through an IEP or 504 Plan, it will require time to set those provisions in place through the College Board.  A parent needs to apply for this by completing a consent form given by the school.  The school then will request that extended time on your child’s behalf months before he/she is going to take the high stakes test.   As a parent, another very important point to consider is to keep the 504 plan open through high school even if you remove accommodations over time.  You never know if your child will show the need for extended time later in high school.  It is possible to have a 504 plan but have no accommodations on it.  Again, its better to keep it open than to close it and have to go through the entire process of getting a new 504 plan during your child’s sophomore or junior year.

If your child doesn’t have a 504 plan, but you suspect that he/she might need one, let us help you get that process started.  An example of this would be if your child has anxiety to the point that it impedes him/her in high stakes testing.  This may be a warning sign that your child could need an accommodation of extended time.  Reach out to Helen at helen@dynamislearningacademy to discuss what you are seeing.  Together, we will come up with a plan to solve this problem.

For those teens that are unsure which test to take and their target school doesn’t list a preference, we recommend taking both tests, ACT and SAT.  Depending on the child’s learning style and thinking differences, one may be a better fit than the other.  For instance, if your child is stronger in language arts, the SAT may be a better choice than the ACT.  If your child excels in the areas of math and science, he/she may prefer the ACT.  It should be noted that the science portion of the ACT uses more logic and analysis in its questions rather than traditional science subject content.

Here are some key points to help you determine if the ACT or the SAT is the best for your child:


  • Tests facts learned in school rather than assessing ability
  • For students who prefer to work quickly, excel in math and science, and struggle with essay writing
  • Good for students who like to see questions written like they see them in a classroom
  • Offers two accommodation options, but students may only choose one
  • When using extended time, it’s possible your child can test at school using alternate formats and over multiple days instead of 50% extended time. Discuss this with the 504 chair at your school.
  • Good for students who are strong in Geometry and want to always have access to a calculator


  • This exam tests ability
  • Good for students who work slowly, read a lot, and have a strong vocabulary
  • Reading section is easier than the ACT typically
  • Students have 20 seconds more to answer questions than in the ACT
  • There’s more time given on the reading section than you would get on the ACT
  • Focuses on problem-solving ability rather than factual knowledge
  • Good for the “out-of-the-box” thinker and the student who writes well
  • Essay section is optional, but the test will include reading and writing sections
  • Generous with provisions for documented learning and thinking differences
  • Only tests math not science at all
  • The student likes connected data analysis and is confident in math ability without a calculator

College admission tests can be challenging and students need successful skills and strategies to score high on these exams.  They need to know which test items to spend the most time on, how to pace themselves, and specific areas to focus on.  For this reason, we believe bringing in a well qualified tutor from Dynamis Learning Academy is essential.

Just a short story about a teen who came to us and struggled with getting her test scores increased. She had taken the ACT one time and received a 24.  After getting ACT preparation tutoring for a few weeks with one of our tutors, her score increased to a 32.  Not only did she get into her target college, but she also received a scholarship that paid for most of her education!

We, at Dynamis Learning Academy, are here to help your teen prepare for and excel in college admission testing.  Contact owner Helen Panos at helen@dynamislearningacademy.com or at 770-282-9931 to schedule a free consultation about the SAT/ACT Prep or any other area of concern.

Helen is an expert educator with over 25 years of experience.  She believes in the importance of helping children reach their potential and become well-rounded, intelligent citizens with a positive influence and impact on society. She assists parents in accessing the best skills, strategies, tools, and resources to help children be successful and ultimately excel in the world.