SAT or ACT?

A student asked a great question Tuesday night in Tallahassee.  It was, “Should I take the SAT or ACT?”

My answer to that question is always, “I can’t tell you!”  Most students, approximately 2/3, get equivalent scores on the SAT and ACT.  Of the remaining students, about half (or 1/6 of all students) do significantly better on the ACT and the other half (about 1/6 of all students) do significantly better on the SAT.  This conclusion is based on my experience over the last 23 years and research conducted by a very large school district.

So, what should you do to get an answer to this question?  Take both tests and find out the answer for yourself then focus on the one that provides you an advantage.  My suggestion is you get your hands on actual released tests.  Your counselor will have them, the SAT and ACT websites have them, or you can buy The Official SAT Study Guide and The Real ACT Prep Guide.  Take the tests at home on Saturday mornings and time yourself.  Compare your scores.  Of course, you can take the real tests but that takes longer to get results and the answer to your question.

Here’s a final thought–it is easier to raise an SAT score than an ACT score!  There are lots of reasons why this is true.  The easiest one to understand is that many (maybe most) universities and scholarship sources (NCAA too!) only care about SAT Reading and Math while they count ACT Reading, Math, English, and Science!  So, if you are applying to a college that feels this way or have a scholarship in mind, or even are trying to meet NCAA requirements, you’ll only have Reading and Math to improve for the SAT.  But you’ll have all four test sections to worry about if you take the ACT!  That’s a lot more studying.  It is especially time consuming to raise an English Test score.

I hope we’ll be seeing you on down the road.  We had a wonderful crowd in Tallahassee Tuesday night and are expecting a big one tonight in Pensacola.  We just confirmed two sites in Portland, Oregon for July 10 and Anchorage for July 21.  We’ll be seeing you soon.

Thanks again to my son who is watching the house for us this summer.  I hope he is enjoying the dog.

SAT and ACT Wizard

About Bob Alexander

Bob has been a professional educator starting with teaching biology, becoming a school administrator, and then working as an education lobbyist in Washington, DC. He got his start in national testing by becoming a consulting test writer, later joining Kaplan as a director, and finally starting his own business in 1995. He has written numerous books, consulted for school districts and colleges, developed his website and been featured on a DVD set. He offers SAT and ACT prep classes and tutors individuals and small groups of students in central Florida.
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