For high school students preparing for college, the SAT can be one of the most important steps forward. Although colleges value entrance essays and high school grades, nothing supercedes your national standardized test scores in their eyes. The SAT is one of two standardized tests - with the ACT being the other - and nearly every college in the country requires you to take one or the other. If you know how colleges use these tests, know what these tests include, and know how to prepare for these tests, you will be set up for conquering the college entrance process. Although it seems like the grade point average (GPA) a student accumulates all throughout high school should be more important than a single test score, it has become necessary for test scores to be valued so highly. The meaning of a student's grades can vary greatly from state to state, from city to city, and even from school to school, based on the various levels of difficulty and grading standards of each school. For instance: What might be considered an easy course in one school might be considered difficult in another; what might be awarded an "A" in one school might be given a "B" in another. Because of this disparity, it has become important for colleges to have a way to judge students across the board. While colleges look at a student's score on a standardized test, they look more closely at the percentile in which a student scores. In this way, colleges can compare one student's score to the score received by other students all across America. While both the SAT and ACT are similar, they test different areas. The SAT focuses on Math, Verbal, and Writing, and is comprised of 10 total sections. On the other hand, the ACT focuses on Science, Math, and Verbal. Each test includes an essay, but the essay is optional on the ACT, while it is required on the SAT. Although there are exceptions to this rule, most schools along either coast prefer the SAT, while most colleges in between the coasts prefer the ACT. Studying SAT flashcards that test word definitions and knowing the general math concepts tested on the SAT are a couple of the best ways to begin preparing for the test. You can also find SAT preparation courses run by several different learning institutions, and most of these are offered at a reasonable price. These courses can make a big difference in your performance on the test, which can make a big difference in college entrance and scholarship money; certainly, such courses are well worth the cost. The future success you will be setting yourself up for by studying for the SAT will make the stress and effort of studying more than worth it.