SAT Versus ACT? Which Test is Right for Your Student?
Determining which test—the SAT or ACT—best represents a student’s academic achievement and aptitude is a crucial tactic in a well-planned approach to college admissions.
Although either the SAT or ACT can earn you admission to college or university, one test often features a student’s strengths and skills more advantageously than the other does. Diagnostic testing is the preferred way to determine the difference, but each test offers its own set of unique advantages and challenges:
SAT – Advantages
- The SAT has 10 short sections, the longest of which is 25-minutes. For students who like short bursts of attention, this format is friendly.
- Math students who are not skilled in the arts of trigonometry or calculus need not fear SAT math: it is largely a review of 9th and 10th grade math, along with a few reasoning concepts.
- About 1/4 of Critical Reading questions are vocabulary-based, so those students strong in reading and vocabulary will fare well on SAT Critical Reading.
- Beginning with the class of 2010 and all successive classes, SAT will offer score choice, that is, students can choose to send their best scores from one test administration while effectively suppressing scores from all others.
SAT – Challenges
- The SAT is about 4 hours long, a real endurance grind for students without the stamina.
- SAT penalizes ¼ point for incorrect answers.
- For those students not thrilled about the prospect of writing essays, the SAT opens with a timed essay exercise that is graded and factored into your Writing score.
ACT -- Advantages
- The ACT has only 4 sections, the longest of which is 1 hour. For those who like a simple structure, the ACT administration is lean and clear.
- The ACT is about 3 hours long, less of an endurance challenge than the SAT.
- The ACT allows you to test multiple times with score choice; that is, after testing several times, you reserve the right to send only your highest score to colleges.
- The ACT does not penalize for incorrect answers.
Reprinted with the permission of Academic Approach. © 2008 Academic Approach.
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