Eligible College Students must decide which Standardized Tests to take. In addition to deciding whether to take the SAT and/or the ACT, deciding when you will take standardized tests is an important strategic factor addressed in When Do I Take Which Test. When you take the SAT and/or ACT is important not only to make sure you get the best possible outcome in time for your application deadline, but also because some colleges require you to submit ALL test scores, therefore you want to decide on the best strategy to determine your test taking calendar. Keeping track of Deadlines & Timelines is vital to all aspects of your application, including your test taking calendar.
THE NEW SAT
A new complicating variable in considering the SAT is that College Board, the organization that offers the SAT, is making extensive changes to the SAT, which will take effect in the Spring of 2016. Critics state that the SAT has been revised to more closely resemble the ACT.
IN THE PAST, a key difference between the SAT and ACT was that the SAT penalized you for wrong answers, while the ACT score is based on the number of correct answers. A basic strategy for the ACT, therefore, was to guess on any questions you don’t have time to answer. Now the SAT score will also be based on the number of correct answers, so it makes sense to guess on questions you don’t have time to answer for both tests. This 2014 Dallas News Article and 2014 New York Times’ article discuss the changes to the SAT.
Even after reading these articles, it might be difficult for you to know which test will be the best fit for you. And for some students, there may be no clear winner, which means you might want to take both tests at least once to decide whether you are going to focus on the SAT or ACT, or whether you will take both tests. But remember that some colleges require you to submit ALL test scores.
CHOOSING TO TAKE THE SAT vs. ACT
There are many ways of describing the differences between the SAT and the ACT. The point of understanding these differences is so you can decide whether you are more likely to do better on one test than the other. The prep for each test is similar, but there are definite differences, so if you know or believe you know the best test for you, you can focus your prep for that particular test. When Do I Take Which Test? has a section regarding Practice Tests, which gives you options for assessing your tendency to excel in either the SAT or ACT.
The ACT website lists some key differences between the SAT and the ACT, but this information is obsolete with the changes in the SAT, which take place in 2016. Before you read any articles about the differences between the SAT and ACT, make sure that article is current enough to be discussing the differences between the ACT and the NEW SAT. The popularity of the SAT vs. ACT will likely fluctuate, with the changes in the SAT. In 2012, more students took the ACT than the SAT, for many reasons, as discussed in this 2013 NY Times Article.
Tips and tricks alone can make a definite impact on your test scores, so it’s important to prepare for standardized tests. How much time or money you choose to spend on test prep is a personal decision, discussed in PSAT, SAT, ACT, SAT Prep and ACT Prep.
If you are curious about what your SAT score would look like as an ACT score, or vice-versa, ACT has a Concordance table on their website.
STUDENTS WITH HIGH STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ACCEPTED TO A COLLEGE AND OFFERED MORE AID
It amazes me that some students aren’t aware of the impact their grades and test scores can make on their College career. Recently, my daughter was sitting in a classroom with some unmotivated students who basically said, “grades don’t really matter”. My daughter told them how she was receiving offers from colleges she had not applied to for $15,000+ scholarships, based on their knowledge of her grades and test scores. That discussion might have been motivating!
On test day, there are several things you can do to elevate your eligibility and visibility – see Important Tip When Registering for Standardized Tests.
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