Time for the performance! If you haven’t already, you should begin preparing your college application right away. Historically, the SAT or ACT test has been a crucial step in the application process. You might still benefit from taking a standardized test even if more and more institutions are waiving it as a prerequisite for admission.
Does the SAT or ACT need to be taken in 2023 / 2024?
Remember that many colleges now offer test-optional or test-blind programs. The COVID 19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many SAT and ACT exam dates, forcing schools to make a temporary adjustment and stop requiring exam scores, which is how this practice got started. But several schools chose to gradually eliminate these demands for the foreseeable future, while others decided to make the tests optional.
Exam results, on the other hand, are taken into consideration by some universities when awarding scholarships and/or tuition breaks. Even though the exam(s) are not necessary for admission to certain schools, you should nonetheless take them.
You might be unsure about how to approach an institution that doesn’t need tests. Would it be beneficial to take an admission test and submit your results? What would happen if you didn’t? In general, test-optional universities won’t penalize you for not submitting your scores, but if you took the test and did well, it would be in your best interest to do so. Many test-optional universities will initially try to decide whether to accept a student without considering the test scores that have been submitted. If you submitted a score, the admissions committee will review it if they are “on the fence” about your application. A high score may then influence their decision to grant you admission. On the other hand, it would be in your best interest to NOT submit your exam score if you are dissatisfied with it.
Make sure you properly investigate each university’s admissions and scholarship requirements before submitting an application. You can see if your top choices are on this list of colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT scores.
What do the SAT and ACT exams entail?
Depending on the high school you attend, your curriculum and grades may be very different. However, when you apply to colleges, admissions staff must take your grades and class standing into account on a nationwide level. Here are where standardized exams like the SAT or ACT come into play. They aim to level the playing field and forecast your college academic achievement.
The reading, writing, and math portions of the SAT and ACT are both multiple-choice, standardized exams. Additionally, these tests are accepted by all colleges. What are the distinctions, then? The SAT examines general verbal and quantitative reasoning, while the ACT assesses academic performance in accordance with high school courses.
Which exam ought you to pick?
Your exam preference will be influenced by a number of variables, including your verbal and mathematics skills, the institution you intend to attend, and even the test day you have available. To assist you in making a decision, let’s examine each exam’s specifics.
The pace of the two exams is the first key distinction. Both exams are almost the same in length, but the ACT manages to cram a lot more questions into that time. This means that each question on the SAT gets between 60 and 90 seconds, whereas the ACT is less forgiving, only giving you between 36 and 60 seconds.
Therefore, the SAT might be a better option for you if time management isn’t one of your talents and if you don’t typically perform well under time pressure.
The content and level of difficulty of the math portion should be taken into account next. On the SAT, your math score accounts for 50% of your overall score, but just 25% on the ACT. Don’t be deceived, though; the ACT covers far more complex math topics than the SAT.
In general, the ACT should be your weapon of choice if you want to memorize formulas and calculate answers rapidly. On the other hand, you should choose the SAT if you enjoy using reasoning and solving puzzles.
The ACT features a separate science portion, whereas the SAT does not, which is another noticeable distinction between the two exams. However, it doesn’t really matter that much. The ACT science component is structured similarly to a reading section; you will be given passages on biology, chemistry, and physics and will be asked questions based on what you have read. There aren’t any direct inquiries about what you’ve studied in your scientific coursework.
Contrarily, the SAT lacks a science element, but the reading portion does contain some science sections, albeit fewer than on the ACT.
Structure for reading
The format of the reading part and the types of questions are the last significant distinction between the SAT and ACT.
At first glance, the SAT appears to be simpler than the ACT because it asks questions in chronological order and gives you a substantial 90 seconds to respond. The ACT asks questions at random and gives you less time to respond. Additionally, there are many evidence-based questions on the SAT that can be answered by just reading the passage.
However, there are several strategies used by the SAT to influence you to select the incorrect response, and it takes a lot of practice to recognize these traps. The ACT questions are a bit more straightforward and don’t require so much thinking.
Basically, the ACT looks like a decent concept if you’re an extremely rapid reader who can recall knowledge quickly. Otherwise, you should stick with the SAT if you wish to focus intently and study hard to learn all the strategies.
Do you need to take both exams?
To start, let’s dispel some myths: no school will insist that you submit your scores from both tests, and no institution favors one test over the other.
So, is it worthwhile to take the SAT and ACT both times? Yes, it is the answer. You shouldn’t avoid doing something just because you can avoid doing it. The advantages of taking both examinations are numerous.
Greater opportunities to succeed
On one, you might perform better than on the other. Without trying both, you sometimes simply can’t tell which one suits you better.
You may prepare for both by preparing for the first one.
Despite their differences, the two exams have enough in common in terms of material and approach that preparing for one will benefit you in the other.
Additional details for schools
Particularly selective colleges value further information. The admissions committee will have more information to work with if you are able to perform well on both exams.
More options for dates
Receiving twice as many exam dates to choose from can be a genuine lifesaver if you have a very hectic schedule during certain periods of the year.
Getting ready for your test (s)
In the case of the SAT and ACT tests, practice really does make perfect. It’s imperative to take lots of practice tests. You can obtain free resources from websites like Khan Academy or purchase exam preparation books in-store or online.
If you have trouble studying on your own, you might want to think about enrolling in a group exam preparation program or getting private coaching. This is accessible both offline and online. In some cases, you don’t even need to search past your high school because a lot of schools offer exam preparation opportunities for pupils.
The final word
Don’t forget to finish your homework before the exams. Learn about the prerequisites for the colleges you are interested in. As was previously mentioned, several US colleges offer a test-optional or test-blind policy, which means that SAT or ACT results are not required. Even a few elite Ivy League schools, like Columbia or Harvard, fit within this category.
Finally, if you do need to take the SAT or ACT, the best advice is to take a practice test for both examinations without any prior preparation before choosing one or the other. This will enable you to choose whatever plays to your strengths the best. Even while it could take a few hours, it will ultimately save you a great deal of time and effort.