Should your child take the SAT or ACT?

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Did you know that most colleges requiring standardized tests for admissions now accept the SAT and ACT without preference?  While the SAT was the main test accepted by colleges in generations past, the past decade has seen the SAT and ACT come onto equal standing.

While the ACT and SAT are viewed in the same light from nearly all colleges, there are some significant differences in the format of each test. Here are some of the key differences between the SAT and ACT:

  • The SAT directly tests challenging vocabulary words; the ACT isn’t concerned with vocabulary.
  • The ACT is more challenging to pace: students are given less time to answer each question.
  • The ACT has a science section that tests data analysis skills; the SAT doesn’t.
  • The ACT tests a few upper-level math skills not tested by the SAT. These include trigonometry, imaginary numbers, and logarithms.
  • The SAT uses more complex, “trickier” wording, and rewards creative problem solving. The ACT is a more straightforward test.
  • The SAT penalizes students for incorrect answers, making guessing more challenging; the ACT does not.

Students who are strong readers and enjoy using fancy vocabulary words tend to prefer the SAT.  Those who prefer math and science usually find the ACT a more appealing test.

How to Choose: ACT or SAT?

With the option of taking either the SAT or the ACT, many students have had difficulty deciding which test to take – or have ended up studying and preparing for both tests, which can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

So how can students decide which test to take?  First off, check with your child’s college counselor to make sure there are no specific testing requirements for the colleges and majors for which your child plans to apply.  If all is equal, the best plan is to have your child take a practice test for both the ACT and the SAT and then decide which test he or she prefers.  Most students have a comfort preference and they may even show a stronger score on one test over the other.

For students entering their junior or senior year in high school, La Jolla LearningWorks is offering free SAT and ACT practice tests this fall.  Students can take both tests to see which is the best fit.  Contact us today to reserve your child a spot! (858) 456-4569

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