You’ve heard about the SAT and the ACT tests for college admission and wondered, “Which is better for me to take”? Traditionally, the SAT was seen as a test of ability, with a predominance of analytical reasoning questions, while the ACT was seen more as a test of achievement and academic content. However, the SAT has been revamped and the newly revised SAT will be offered for the first time in March of 2016.
The format of the new SAT more closely resembles the ACT in that they are both broken into four sections of multiple-choice questions and offer an optional 30-minute writing test. However, the ACT has English, Math, Reading, and Science sections, whereas the new SAT has a Writing & Language, Reading, and two Math sections.
The new SAT includes questions on science dispersed throughout the Writing & Language, Reading and Math sections. The Math section de-emphasizes geometry and now covers pre-algebra through basic trigonometry. Most of the obscure “SAT words” have been omitted and vocabulary is now tested in the context of reading passages.
There are now four multiple choice options instead of five; you are no longer penalized for guessing; and the test is scored on a 1600 point scale instead of a 2400 point scale, with the essay being optional. Although starting in the spring of 2016 both the SAT and ACT will have optional essays, be sure to check the admission requirements of the colleges you are interested in as some schools may ask for a writing test score.
The ACT remains more of a test of achievement, covering a wider range of knowledge of many concepts and also requires a more constant, rapid pace of responding.
Historically, which test a person performed better on depended upon their individual learning style with no clear advantage of one over the other. However, at a recent IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference, many attendees seemed to lean toward opting for the ACT for this year’s juniors. They favored the ACT because it is a known quantity as opposed to the newly revised SAT, which will take a year or two to develop normative data.
However, for Connecticut residents, just this month Governor Malloy announced that the SAT will be used in place of the SBAC exam currently required of juniors in CT public schools. The PSATs (practice SATs) are already offered to students in the high schools in the fall of 10th and 11th grade. Because it appears that in the spring of junior year, the new SAT will be provided at no charge to students, there may be an advantage for Connecticut students to taking the SAT.
Neither the SAT nor ACT can be considered the better choice for all students. As with all college admissions planning, the individual student must consider the best fit for him or herself. College Docs works with students to sift through these choices and address their individual needs.
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