Blog

Should I Take the SAT or ACT or Both?

Colleges look at various factors when considering applicants in their admissions pool.

  • Academic Record
  • Test Scores
  • Essays or Personal Insight Questions
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Extracurricular Activities and/or Community Involvement
  • An Interview
  • A Portfolio or Audition

How much do test scores matter?

Standardized test scores have traditionally been the second most important factor for admissions.

One other very important fact to consider is that test scores also play a large role in how merit-aid is awarded. Merit aid is the amount of money a college or university will give you for your academic achievements. For a more through look at some of the largest and most well established scholarships that are awarded at many universities, visit “Generous Scholarships that Could Give You a Free College Education “

Okay, let’s dive right in!

The SAT

The Basics:

4 Sections:

  • Writing and Language: 44 questions, 35 minutes
  • Reading: 52 questions, 65 minutes
  • Math: 60 questions, 60 minutes (one section allows use of a calculator, one section does not allow use of a calculator)
  • Essay: optional

General Student Strengths

  • Type of Reader: an excellent reader who is good at reading for evidence and reasoning
  • Type of Math Student: you don’t love geometry, but are very good at Algebra and Algebra II and feel confident with word problems
  • Type of Science Student: you find that reading about science and interpreting charts, graphs, diagrams is not your particular interest 
  • Type of Test Taker: you prefer to not have more time to think and perhaps go back and work on or check a previous answer

Other Considerations

  • A total of 156 multiple choice questions
  • Each section (Reading/Writing and Math) will yield a score between 200-800, the maximum score is 1600
  • The national average score for 2019 was 1059
  • You do not get penalized for getting a wrong answer. Make sure to make educated guesses, don’t leave any questions blank!

The ACT

The Basics:

5 Sections:

  • English: 75 questions, 45 minutes
  • Reading: 40 questions, 35 minutes
  • Math: 60 questions, 60 minutes (you can use a calculator)
  • Science: 40 questions, 35 minutes
  • Essay: optional

General Student Strengths

  • Type of Reader: a reader who generally likes to read quickly for basic details instead of in-depth inferences
  • Type of Math Student: you’re good at Geometry and feel comfortable with Trigonometry
  • Type of Science Student: you like interpreting data, analyzing information presented, and feel comfortable problem solving with the information presented
  • Type of Test Taker: You like to move quickly and are not flustered by the relatively shorter amount of time you have for each section

Other Considerations

  • A total of 215 multiple choice questions
  • Each section will yield a score between 1-36 which will then be divided by 4. The essay is scored separately by two readers on a scale of 1-6
  • The national average score for 2019 was 20.7
  • The biggest obstacle for most students is being prepared for the fast pacing of the test
  • You do not get penalized for getting a wrong answer. Make sure to make educated guesses, don’t leave any questions blank!
  • It is Risk-Free meaning that if you are unhappy with your score, you can easily request to have it erased from your records and the college will never know you took the test.
Struggling to decide SAT or ACT

How Do I Know Which Test I Should Take?

The best way to determine which test is best suited for you is to take a sample test for both the SAT and ACT and compare your score results. You can take a sample test online or for free from a test prep company that advertises in your area. Often times, your high school counselor or your high school website will post these free or very low cost test events.

Do I have to take both tests and submit both of them to a college?

No. Absolutely not. Decide which test is the best match for you and focus all of your energies planning and studying for that test.

5/5

“Sylvia is a phenomenal college counselor. She is patient, kind, organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the college application process." - Susie

Recent posts