Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

Should I take the SAT or the ACT? 
As a college counselor, I get this asked this question a lot. The answer; you should take both. Both exams are designed to test what you have already learned in school. However, they are different in their approach to this and some people are more suited to one exam over the other.
          The ACT is broken up in to four components, English, Reading, Mathematics and Science Reasoning with an optional fifth section in Writing. Each question on the ACT has four answer choices to choose from, and there is no penalty for guessing. Comparatively, the ACT is a little more focused on what you have already learned than the SAT. This does not mean that it is easier to study for, simply that you should not approach them both in exactly the same way.
          The SAT is broken up in to three components, Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Each question on the SAT has five answer choices. Students are penalized ¼ point for each question they attempt and fail, meaning that they are deducted one and one-quarter point for the wrong answer. If a student chooses not to answer a question, they simply miss one point for that question. This system of evaluation means that the SAT is a slightly more strategic exam than the ACT.
         Despite a student’s aptitude or inclination it is very difficult to predict which exam they will perform better on. It is for this reason that students should plan on taking both exams. A student’s performance on these standardized exams can directly translate into how much college costs for them. It’s worth taking the time to prepare for them both.


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