I was recently talking with a new client about her daughter who was preparing to take the SAT college entrance exam in May.
I asked if there was a reason she was taking the SAT instead of the other college entrance exam, the ACT. Her reason? She thought that colleges required you to take the SAT.
Absolutely Not True!
There was a time when schools in the Northeast and onthe West Coast required the SAT while schools in the Midwest preferred the ACT. Now all colleges and universities accept both entrance exams equally.
Differences between SAT and ACT
So what does that mean for your child? Choice! The tests have big differences, and your child may be a better fit for one test over the other.
“One of the major differences between the ACT and the SAT is that the ACT focuses on material learned in school (curriculum) while the SAT tends to test reasoning and problem-solving sklls,” says Meredith Principe, Director of College Counseling at Campus Bound in Lexington. “Students who do well in school through hard work, but are not natural test takers, often do better on the ACT.”
Here are some other major differences.
- The ACT has a science section, the SAT does not.
- The ACT math section includes some trigonometry, the SAT does not.
- The SAT has a strong emphasis on vocabulary, the ACT on grammar and punctuation.
- The ACT writing test is not required, the SAT writing test is.You are not penalized for guessing on the ACT, you are on the SAT.
Which test is best for your child?
The differences listed above may make it easy for some students to know which is the better fit. But what if students are still not sure?
“Have them take a sample test of each one”, said Principe. “Make sure they stick to the allotted time for each section as if they were actually taking the test. Once you get the scores, there are conversion charts on the web which will let you compare the two tests and see which one produced a higher score.”
My son is currently a freshman at the University of New Hampshire. We knew from the get-go that the ACT was a better test for him. He never took the SAT, and he was accepted at almost every school to which he applied.
Here are some additional links that may be helpful:
- Article on About.Com about the differences in the tests: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/standardizedtests/tp/sat-act.htm
- Free Online SAT practice test: http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-practice-test
- Free Online ACT practice test: http://www.actstudent.org/sampletest/index.html
What test is your child taking an why? Share you thoughts.