Frequently Asked Questions About Taking the ACT or SAT

Considering taking the SAT through Northwestern University’s CTD Assessment or the ACT through ATYP? Answers below!

  • Q. What is the ACT?

    A. The ACT assesses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The multiple-choice test covers four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. There is an optional writing portion that is not included in the Talent Search. The test is designed to assess all students’ knowledge of basic subjects and is usually administered in the student’s junior year. The entire test takes three hours, but students are at the testing center for more than four hours. Students, whether they are interested in ATYP’s language arts or math programs, must sit for the full test. The official ACT test is held at WMU in April. The unofficial ACT test will be given through ATYP in February and can only be used for qualifying for ATYP.

  • Q. What is the SAT?

    A. The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a test designed primarily for college-bound juniors and seniors. The test consists of two divisions: reading and writing (sentence completions, word context, and passage-based reading) and math (multiple choice and student-produced response questions). There is an optional writing portion that is not included in the Talent Search. The entire test takes 3 hours to complete, but the total time students are at the testing center is over 4 hours. The entire test takes 3 hours to complete, but the total time the students are testing virtually will be longer with breaks and instructions. The test is designed by College Board, but we will be using a virtual practice test given by Kahn Academy through the Center for Talent Development (CTD). All Michigan high school students are required to take the SAT during their junior year to receive a Michigan diploma. Again, if you are testing for ATYP you must complete the full test.

  • Q. Why do CTD Assessment and ATYP suggest that I take the ACT or SAT?

    A. You have already exhibited substantial academic talent. The academic talent search process provides a second screening device, either the ACT or the SAT, which can be a valuable tool in discovering your potential for excellence in mathematics or language arts. Since it is an above-grade-level test, it provides an assessment of your readiness to study curriculum at advanced levels. Either test is fine for ATYP admissions, however recent changes to the SAT include wordier math problems that have proven to be an issue for our test takers. If you are interested at all in qualifying for the math program, you may want to make the ACT your first choice.

  • Q. Are the ACT or SAT too difficult for sixth and seventh graders?

    A. The test will be difficult. There will be MANY questions that you will not be able to answer. Nevertheless, experience has shown that the very ablest of you will do reasonably well on the test. There is no passing or failing grade on this test. The test score only indicates the extent of your above-grade-level reasoning ability, which you cannot fully demonstrate on grade-level achievement tests because their level of difficulty is too low. Do not register for the PSAT 8/9 – it may look like the more appropriate test for your child’s age, but we do not take PSAT 8/9 scores for ATYP admission purposes.

  • Q. If I decide to take the ACT or SAT, should I prepare for it?

    A. It’s probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of questions on the test you will be taking. All Michigan high school students are required to take the SAT during their junior year in order to receive a Michigan diploma. We also offer a Test Preview Seminar that helps students understand the expectations for the test (online registration is available on our website). Young students should NOT be coached or tutored on an ongoing basis as preparation for this test. The purpose of this process is for students to demonstrate how they think about these mathematical and language arts concepts before they have been taught the content.

  • Q. How soon do I get my score?

    A. For the SAT, your score should be shown immediately and be in your CTD Toolbox in one-two weeks. The Toolbox will also give you recommendations for future coursework as well as access to research and online seminars.

    For the ACT, scores should be available four to five weeks after testing. We should receive your scores in our office at the same time if you put our school code (6007) as an additional score report. If you did not enter our code, email us a copy of your scores to atyp-info@wmich.edu when you receive them.

  • Q. Will I hear from ATYP after I take the test?

    A. ATYP sends a follow-up letter to all students who test and select ATYP as their school (SAT) or enter our code (ACT). Students are notified in the spring (by late April or within one month of your test date, whichever is later) whether or not their test scores qualify them for the program. If you test by April and have not heard from us by May 1, please contact us at atyp-info@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3553 to make sure we have received your scores. You may email your scores to us or make a copy and send them in the mail. A meeting is held in early May for qualifying students with more detailed information regarding course offerings.

  • Q. When and where will the ACT or SAT test be given?

    A. The SAT will be given online monthly from January to April through CTD Assessments. The ACT will be given in February (unofficial) or April (national) in-person at WMU.

    For the national ACT, you may test at either Western Michigan University or at any other site that is convenient for you. Available sites will be listed when you register. You should be at the test site no later than 7:45 a.m. Other testing dates are available but taking the test no later than April allows for both the smoothest admissions process and ample time for summer homework. When you receive your Admission Ticket in the regular mail, be sure to open it immediately to verify the testing location that you have been assigned. Students do not always receive their first-choice location.

  • Q. What if there is bad weather the morning of the ACT or SAT test?

    A. Check out WWMT.com for a test cancellation at your test site. Just because tests are cancelled at one site does not mean they are cancelled for all sites. Test cancellation is unlikely except in cases of extremely bad weather. If the test is cancelled, you will be notified of a re-scheduled date.

  • Q. How do I register for the ACT or SAT?

    A. Online registration is available for the SAT virtual testing, and both the ACT  in-person national testing and the unofficial in-person ACT testing with ATYP.

  • Q. What should I bring to the test?

    A. For the in-person tests, bring at least three No. 2 non-mechanical pencils with good erasers and an acceptable calculator. You may also bring a quiet snack and water bottle. Do not bring watches that beep. Cell phones must be turned off throughout the entire morning. 

    For the online tests, have several pencils with good erasers, scratch paper, and an acceptable calculator at your station where you will take the online test. You may not use any device connected to the internet except the device in use for the test and you should close out of all programs except the test on that device. We also recommend you remove cell phones from the test area and try to create a quiet and distraction-free space for testing.

  • Q. If I have questions after I have read the information booklets, can I call anyone?

    A. CTD Assessment information can be found at ctd.northwestern.edu/above-grade-level-assessment . You can reach them by phone at (847) 491-3782, ext 2 or by email at ctd-assessment@northwestern.edu. General ATYP information can be found at wmich.edu/precollege/atyp. In-person ACT questions should be directed to act.org or to their office at (319) 337-1270; their offices are open until 8 p.m., CT. In-person SAT questions should be directed to collegeboard.com or to their office at (609) 771-7600; their offices are open until 8:45 p.m., ET.