Should I Take the SAT or the ACT? Get Advice from Experts
Choosing between the SAT or ACT is an important decision that faces many high school students. In a recent question and answer session, Kathryn Juric, the vice president of the SAT program, and Jon Erickson, the president of the education division at the ACT gave answers to online readers about this very question. They outlined major differences in the tests and gave college admissions tips.
Understand the Tests.
The first, and most important, piece of information the experts spoke about was knowing what the major differences between the tests are. Understanding how each test works provides clarity about which test is best for each student or their prospective institutions. For example, the ACT includes a science test, while the SAT does not. This might be important to those students entering (or not) science related majors or applying to particular schools. In the discussion, the experts also outlined the different scoring matrices for each test. Ms. Juric cautions comparing test score percentages, though, as they relate to aptitudes on the ACT or SAT.
When in Doubt, Take Both.
“Sending both sets of scores can be a good idea for another reason: The more colleges know about a student, the better they can decide if that student is a good fit for their institution and, once a student has been admitted, the better they will understand what they can do to best help that student succeed on campus,” says Jon Erickson.
Students are encouraged to begin taking the tests during the fall or spring of their junior year of high school, and then take tests again in the fall of their senior year. Taking the tests multiple times over these two years can show progress, which is important to prospective institutions in gaging student’s abilities to succeed as college students.
“Research consistently shows that the SAT, when combined with high school G.P.A., is the best predictor of first-year college success for all students – regardless of demographic, geographic or socioeconomic differences,” Kathryn Juric points out.
Ms. Juric and Mr. Erickson also answered pointed questions about test prep being a factor that increased scores. They both agree that rigorous course work and high standards of achievement in this course work is the best indicator (and preparation) for doing well on these tests.
With that in mind, efficient SAT and ACT prep online courses could be looked at as a cost effective solution to give students additional test preparation without the overwhelming expense. Personal preference still seems to be the key factor in making the decision of which test to take. Students will benefit by clearly understanding their test taking goals and setting realistic scoring targets.
Now that you’ve heard from the experts, which test looks like the right pick for you?
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