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SATvs.ACT:FactsToHelpDecideWhichCollegeEntranceExamYouShouldTake

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SATvs.ACT:FactsToHelpDecideWhichCollegeEntranceExamYou
ShouldTake
By Julia Glum (/reporters/julia-glum)
@superjulia (http://www.twitter.com/superjulia)
j.glum@ibtimes.com (mailto:j.glum@ibtimes.com)
on January 08 2015 3:11 PM EST
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AwomanstudiesattheUniversityofCalifornia,Berkeley.Collegeadmissionoftenrequiresstandardizedtestscores,whichforces
prospectivestudentstomakeachoice:SAT,ACT,orboth?Reuters

Asmanyuniversityadmissionsofficesclosetheirapplicationperiodsthismonth,anewwaveofstudentsarestartingthe
process.HighschooljuniorstypicallytakestandardizedtestsliketheACTandSATinthespringoftheir11thgrade
year,andbothhaveupcomingregistrationdeadlinesfortheirJanuaryexamdates.

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SATvs.ACT:FactsToHelpDecideWhichCollegeEntranceExamYouShouldTake

"Theyareverydifferenttests,andtheimportantthingforparentsandstudentsistoconsiderboth,"saidChristineBrown,
theexecutivedirectorofK12andcollegeprepprogramsforKaplan."TheSAThashistoricallybeenmoreofanaptitude
testandlessofanachievementtest."
Doadmissionsofficerspreferoneovertheother?"Theanswerreallyisno,"Brownsaid."They'reviewedequally."
Sowhichoneshouldyouoryourchildtake?Herearethetwotestsbrokendown:
Cost
TheACTwithoutwritingcosts$38.Withwriting,it's$54.50.Thatincludesscorereportsforyou,yourhighschooland
fourcolleges.It'sfreetoviewyourscoresonline.TheSATcosts$52.50andincludesreportsforyou,yourhighschooland
fourcolleges.BasicregistrationforSATSubjectTestscosts$26,accordingtotheCollegeBoard
(http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/satreasoning/register/fees).
Dates
TheACTwillbeofferedonFeb.7(lateregistrationthroughJan.16),April18(registrationdeadlineMarch13)andJune13
(registrationdeadlineMay8).UpcomingSATdatesincludeJan.24(lateregistrationthroughTuesday),March14
(registrationdeadlineFeb.13),May2(registrationdeadlineApril6)andJune6(registrationdeadlineMay8).
Length
TheACTtakes3hoursand25minuteswiththewritingtest,whiletheSATisslightlylongerat3hoursand45minutes.
TheACThasfoursectionsEnglish,math,readingandsciencestudentstakeoneatatime.Thewritingtest,ifyou
chooseit,takesplaceattheend,accordingtothePrincetonReview(http://www.princetonreview.com/satact.aspx).The
SATcoversthreetopicscriticalreading,mathandwritingbutbreaksthemupinto10sections.
Subjects
TheACThasasciencesection,andtheSATdoesnot.Thesciencequestionsdon'trequireindepthknowledgeofbiology
orchemistry.Instead,theytestyourreasoningandanalysisskillsbyhavingyoureadchartsandgraphs.
Bothexamstestbasicmath,algebraandgeometry.TheACTaddstrigonometry.
Bothexamstestvocabulary,buttheSATfocusesmoreonit.TheACTisusuallymorestraightforwardinthewordingofits
questions.TheACTtendstobemorecenteredaroundcontent.
Scoring
TheACTisscoredonascaleof1to36.There'snopenaltyforguessing.TheSATisscoredona2,400pointscale(itwill
changebacktoa1,600pointscalein2016,butdon'tworryaboutthatnow).Ifyouguessanincorrectanswer,aquarterof
apointissubtractedfromyourscore.
UsebyColleges
ThoughtheSATwasthemorepopularofthetwoforyears,that'snolongerthecase.TheSATiswidelyacceptedby
schools,andasof2007,allfouryearcollegesanduniversitiesintheU.S.takeACTscores.
SomeIvyLeagueschoolsrequireSATsubjecttestsinadditiontoanentranceexam,saidDavidHawkins,executive
directorforeducationalcontentandpolicywiththeNationalAssociationforCollegeAdmissionCounseling.Butthose
couldbepairedwithanACTscore.So,again:Collegesdon'tcarewhichyoutake.
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Popularity
About1.7millionstudentsintheclassof2014tooktheSAT.About1.8milliontooktheACTin2014.TheACT'snumbers
overtooktheSATin2012,theWashingtonPostreported(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer
sheet/post/howactovertooksatasthetopcollegeentranceexam/2012/09/24/d56df11c067411e2afff
d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html),butbotharegrowing.ThetrendofMidwesternstudentstakingtheACTandEastCoast
studentstakingtheSATislongover."There'snogeographicboundaryanymore,"Hawkinssaid.
Athirdofrespondentstoa2014Kaplansurvey
(http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20141106005274/en/KaplanTestPrepSurveyMajorityStudents
SAT%C2%AE#.VK61ZSvF9HU)saidtheythoughttheSATwasacceptedbymoreschools,whichisn'ttrue.Aboutaquarter
ofthemtooktheSATovertheACTbecausetheirfriendstookit,and16percentsaidtheylikedtheSATbetter.Guidance
counselorsurgedoneovertheotherinonly5percentofcases.
TheFuture
TheACThasbeguntestingadigitalversionofitsexam.About4,000studentstrieditlastyear,andthenumberis
expectedtorisethisyear.Rightnow,onlyalimitedgroupofhighschoolsthatadministerstateanddistrictACTtestingfor
allstudentshaveaccesstotheonlineACT.In2016,thisisexpectedtoexpandtoallhighschoolsthatadministerstateand
districttesting.There'snotimelineonwhentheonlineACToptionwillopenuptothepublic.
Ifyou'rechosentotakeit,theonlineACTwillletyoumarkquestionstocomebacktoattheendofyoursectionandstrike
outanswerchoices,accordingtoU.S.NewsandWorldReport(http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college
admissionsplaybook/2014/12/15/5onlineactfactsstudentsneedtoknow).Revisingessayswillalsobeeasier.
TheCollegeBoardhasbeguntestingadigitalversionoftheSAT,aswell.TheSATisundergoinganoverhaulthatwill
affectstudentstakingthetestin2016andon.TheredesignedSATwill,amongotherchanges,includepassagesfrom
documents,usemorepracticalvocabularyandbancalculatorsoncertainmathsections.Itwillreturntoa1,600point
scoringscale,theessaywillbecomeoptionalanddeductionsforwronganswerswillbeeliminated,Timereported
(http://time.com/13080/9thingschangingonthenewsat/).
BrownsaidtheSATmakeoverwilllikelydrivemoreclassof2017studentstotaketheACTnextyear."TheACTisgoingto
bemuchmoreofaknownquantity,"shesaid.
TakingBoth/Neither
Brownrecommendedstudentsfocusonstudyingforonetest,notboth.It'shardtosaywhichkindofstudentwilldobetter
onwhichtest,soshesaidjuniorsshouldtakepracticetestsonlinetoseeiftheyliketheACTorSATbetter.Intheevent
youdotakethemboth,here(http://www.act.org/aap/concordance/estimate.html)'sahandyscoreconversionchart.
Butsurprise!youdon'thavetotakeeithertestinordertogotocollege.WakeForestUniversity,inWinstonSalem,
N.C.ColoradoCollege,inColoradoSprings,ColoradoBowdoinCollege,inBrunswick,MaineBrynMawrCollege,in
BrynMawr,PennsylvaniaSmithCollege,inNorthampton,MassachusettsandWesleyanUniversity,inMiddletown,
Connecticut,areamongschoolsthatdon'trequirestandardizedtestsforadmission.Here
(http://www.powerscore.com/sat/help/nosat_colleges.cfm)'safulllist.
Basedonthisinformation,youshouldtaketheSATifyou:
requirelotsofbreaks
likemovingbetweensubjects
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SATvs.ACT:FactsToHelpDecideWhichCollegeEntranceExamYouShouldTake

reallyhatescience
lovevocabularyandwriting

ThatmeansyoushouldtaketheACTifyou:
wantaslightlyshortertest
likescienceandtrigonometry
tendtoguessanswersontests
aretryingtosavemoney

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