The Right Test to Take For College Acceptance: ACT vs SAT

The Right Test to Take For College Acceptance: ACT vs SAT
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    Today in America the ACT has overtaken the SAT in popularity, which is why parents and students all over the nation are now asking themselves which exam is more important for college acceptance, the SAT or ACT?


Do colleges prefer ACT or SAT?

First let’s dispel any notion of colleges preferring one test over the other. The two organizations that created these two tests (The College Board for SAT and the ACT for the ACT test) jointly created a conversion chart to convert test scores from ACT to SAT and vice versa. When this chart was created, it was universally accepted by every college and university in America, including Ivy League schools. However, the myth that ACT score is not accepted at all colleges continues. This article is here to clear up this and other misconceptions with the ACT and SAT.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss which test you should take to get the highest possible score so you can be accepted to your top college of choice!

ACT for bad test takers?

One of the biggest misconceptions about the ACT is that it’s the best test for students who do well in school but who aren’t so good at taking tests. This misconception stems from the widely held belief that the ACT is a test of academic achievement, and that the SAT is a test of logic and reasoning. Therefore people come to the conclusion that the ACT is the preferable test if a child does ok with school work but not so good on tests.

But what most people don’t know is that the ACT is a standardized test that is graded on a forced curve. The fact that a child may feel more comfortable taking the ACT is negated by the fact that this very same feeling is experienced by all the rest of their peers as well. Despite the fact that most teenagers are much better students than philosophers, taking the SAT may benefit some students more when it comes to getting a higher test score; that is why it is smart for a child to take both tests to see which one they score higher on.

Which test to study for

Another big misconception is that if a child scores the same on both tests, they should take the test they are most comfortable with. This belief does not take into account the impact of studying to improve score. It has been documented that students who do not study for the ACT and students who do not study for the SAT score roughly the same on both tests. With this fact in mind, the astute student will study for the exam where they benefit the most from studying. So which exam benefits more from studying, the SAT or ACT? It really depends on how well and how quickly one can learn new information.

Because the study material for the SAT contains mostly new information to the majority of students, it is all potentially helpful information for raising their SAT score. The SAT covers information generally only taught in logic and reasoning classes whereas the ACT covers information taught in all of the core subject classes over a period of three years. When students who don’t study for either test score almost the same on the SAT and the ACT, the effect of studying new information for the SAT can be the deciding factor for taking the SAT instead of the ACT.

So unless a child aced all of their tests and did their homework regularly, studying for the SAT may be the smarter option and the best study time investment. However, no matter which test a student ultimately decides to take, another good investment is to get professional help here.

Credit Image: Adolescenstress by Julia Kersten, on Flickr


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Categories: Study Tips