What is the EXPLORE test?
The EXPLORE test is an above-level, multiple choice test that measures academic achievement in English, math, reading, and science. The EXPLORE test is written and produced by ACT, Inc. It is a test that was developed for 8th grade students to measure their academic achievement through middle school grades. The scale is 1-25 for each section, and EXPLORE reports a composite average. Due to the limited number of EXPLORE test locations, students are strongly encouraged to review the site list to ensure that the family is willing/able to get the student to the testing location.
What is the difference between the SAT reasoning test and the ACT test?
The SAT measures math, verbal reasoning, and writing abilities. It includes math, critical reading, and writing sections. The score range on each section of the SAT is 200–800. The total combined score possible is 2400.
The ACT focuses more on core curriculum knowledge that students have acquired in school. It has 4 sections: English, math, reading, and science. The score range for the ACT is 1–36 for each section of the test and ACT reports a composite average. The ACT also includes an optional writing section. WATS does not recommend that talent search students register for the optional ACT writing section, and asks that you please note the additional fee required for this test. ACT writing is not used for Recognition Ceremony qualification.
Which test should my child take?
Both the SAT and ACT are offered to 6th-9th graders, and the EXPLORE to 3rd-6th graders. WATS does not recommend one test over another. Any of the three tests are appropriate for Talent Search participation. When choosing a test, parents and students may want to consider which date or location is most convenient, or which type of test feels more comfortable to the student. The tests are offered on different dates and at different locations. Students may also wish to review test questions prior to choosing a test. Most students take only one test per year; however students have the option to take all tests for their grade level. Students may take each test only once per academic year.
My child is twice-exceptional (gifted with a learning disability). Can he/she take the SAT/ACT/EXPLORE test with accommodations? Probably! The College Board, ACT, and ESTS (a.k.a. the test companies) make the decision on whether or not students are granted accommodations. A special request form must be completed and submitted to the test company prior to the regular registration deadline for the chosen test date. Most often, students are granted the same accommodations they receive at school as stated in their IEP or 504 plan. Copies of these plans and sometimes substantial documentation are critical for determination.
Should students study for the SAT, ACT, or EXPLORE test?
WATS does not recommend that students spend a lot of time studying for these tests; however, we do strongly suggest that students carefully review the test format and timing, and also take the practice test a few days prior to their testing date. The talent search experience is not meant to be stressful or create anxiety. We want this to be a positive experience allowing students, parents, and schools to obtain more information about student’s academic abilities.
Where do students take the test?
The SAT and ACT tests are given at many locations throughout the WATS region, usually at local high schools and colleges. Talent search students take the SAT and ACT alongside high school students who are testing for college admission; they are not generally separated into a different testing room. Review the website links on the "application" page for SAT and ACT test sites and dates. The EXPLORE test is offered in a limited number of locations, usually at local elementary and middle schools. Students taking the EXPLORE will test only with other 3rd through 6th grade talent search participants. Review the EXPLORE web link for test sites and dates.
What happens after students take the test?
Five to eight weeks after students take the test, they receive a score report at home from the testing company. Test companies also send a copy of the score report to WATS. Please note this is the national score report and does not include specific data on talent search students. In mid-April, all WATS students are given access to the Summer Opportunities Guide and are sent an Interpretive Guide. High scoring students who test by the end of February and live in a state offering a Recognition Ceremony will be invited to the WATS Awards Ceremony in their state. If you are willing to travel and are not in one of these states, please contact us and fax in your score report to be considered for another state ceremony. Most of the time, we can accommodate these requests. However, please note that your student's data will be compared to students in the ceremony state. All WATS participants will also receive a Summer Programs Catalogue. Certificates of participation for all WATS students are mailed to each student’s school if you choose to release information, or to your home if you do not.
Is financial aid available?
Yes! Students who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program at their school (whether they use it or not) may send only a reduced $35 WATS fee if they are interested in the ACT. Documentation of qualification for the lunch program must be included with the talent search application and fee. WATS is issued a limited number of ACT fee waivers each year that are distributed to students on a first-come, first-served basis. The first students each year who send documentation of lunch program eligibility with their WATS application (with the “ACT” box marked on the application) will receive a fee waiver so that they can take the ACT for free. Fee waivers are not offered for the EXPLORE or SAT tests. In addition, WATS can sometimes scholarship students to cover the WATS fee in extreme circumstances. This program can be virtually free for qualifying students.
Are the students’ SAT/ACT scores permanently recorded?
The SAT or ACT scores for 6th-9th grade WATS students do not become a part of their permanent test record. This means that when students take these tests in high school, their middle school scores will not appear on their test score reports. Both SAT & ACT record all scores taken after 9th grade; however, college reporting is different for each test and occurs only if families CHOOSE to report this information.
When high school students request that their scores be sent to colleges, SAT sends all scores for tests taken in 10th through 12th grade. Since WATS is meant to be an assessment and test “practice” experience, students age out of WATS at the end of 9th grade.