International Students taking the Sat and ACT have their own particular set of difficulties.
First off, there aren’t as many resources available to them. Often, they are one of the few, if not the lone student in their class taking the exam. Their school might not offer any practice for the test, or if they do, the teachers might not be up to date on what exactly is required to do well. (Quick aside -- Please note that the SAT and ACT are both changing. While the ACT test is only changing slightly (read about that here), the SAT is receiving a major overhaul which you can read about in my article in the July issue of The American here).
Also, material-wise there can be some difficulties. I’ve found that in the UK and other European countries, math concepts such as Absolute Value are not taught before students are 17 years old, so many have to learn it from scratch. Also, grammar isn’t focused on, so a good deal of review is necessary to do well on the Writing sections. Even students’ experience with essay writing is different as typically International Students tend to focus on a balanced point of view essay so the current SAT type persuasive style essay can be a bit strange at first.
Difficulties for International students can even be logistical as they often need to travel quite a distance to the nearest test centre. To date the farthest I’ve heard is a two hour journey, but it is not uncommon for students to have to stay in a hotel in order to get a decent night’s rest before the test. That’s not something you often hear an US student complaining about!
It’s not to say that International students have any less chance of getting into good US universities – many of my students find themselves going to their dream schools – Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, etc. It’s just that they have their own particular set of hurdles to get past.
Have you experienced any difficulties taking or prepping for the SAT or ACT? Leave a comment below!