Which should I take? SAT or ACT?

  • SAT or ACT?
    Information provided by www.kaptest.com

    You might wonder why you have to choose between the SAT and the ACT--maybe one of the two is favored by the students in your school. Ten or 20 years ago, choosing which test to take wasn't even an issue. Until recently, the ACT was traditionally required by colleges in the midwest, and the SAT was the test of choice in the northeast and on the east and west coasts. But now an increasing number of students are taking the ACT, and the majority of schools in the United States now accept both SAT and ACT test results.  Note that many students sit for both exams.

    The Power of Prediction

    While the SAT and ACT are very different tests, they both fulfill the same role in the admissions process.

    How This Affects You
    This increased acceptance of the ACT gives today's savvy students a strategic advantage. The SAT and ACT are significantly different tests, and in many ways, they measure different skills. So depending on your particular strengths and weaknesses, you may perform much better on one test than the other. As a result, many students embarking on the admissions process are now considering both the SAT and ACT--to figure out which test provides a better showcase for their abilities.

    What's the Difference?
    Admissions officers and educators often describe the difference between SAT and ACT in these terms: the ACT is a content-based test, whereas the SAT tests critical thinking and problem solving. This perception is one reason many educators (off the record) express a preference for the ACT--because they believe that the ACT is closer to testing the "core curriculum" taught in most school classrooms. In fact, this contrast isn't exactly watertight. Many questions on the ACT test critical thinking, and there is a predictable range of material that's tested on the SAT. But the SAT and ACT reward different attributes, so performing well on each test can boil down to what kind of test taker you are.

    Here are some of the factors that make the SAT and ACT very different breeds:

    • The ACT includes a science reasoning test; the SAT does not.
    • The ACT math section includes trigonometry.
    • The SAT tests vocabulary much more than the ACT.
    • The SAT is not entirely multiple choice.
    • The SAT has a guessing penalty; the ACT does not.
    • The ACT tests English grammar; the SAT does not.

    Remember, both the SAT and ACT are important parts of your application, but they're only one of several factors--from your courses and grades to recommendations and your personal statement--that colleges consider.