Should I take the ACT or SAT test? 5 Tips to Help Students Decide
For the college admissions process post-pandemic, taking the ACT/SAT is either ‘test optional’ – which means scores are not required but would be considered if submitted – or ‘test blind’ which means scores are not required or considered. Before talking yourself out of taking the ACT/SAT exam, you might want to consider the fact that test scores are still being used to determine National merit, as well as other kinds of scholarships.
College Careers Consulting’s advice to students is to commit to studying and taking the best-fit exam to avoid regret and to only submit your scores if it works in your favor. Here are some tips to decide whether you should take the ACT or SAT.
Tip #1 – Practice First
First, take a free practice test for both. Consider the test you scored highest on while evaluating it against your PreACT or PSAT experience factors mentioned below.
Tip #2 – Consider Your Strengths
How does each test highlight your strengths rather than your weaknesses? If you have a strong English background, you might flourish on the ACT, which puts emphasis on verbal skills. On the other hand, if you have strong math skills SAT is the way to go.
Tip #3 – Your Stamina and Endurance
Both tests need tremendous mental and physical strength.
The SAT takes 2 hours and has 154 questions. The reading test takes 65 minutes, the writing/language test 35 minutes, and the math test 80 minutes.
The ACT is 5 minutes shy of 3 hours. The reading test is 35 minutes, the English test 45 minutes, Math 60 minutes and science 35 minutes.
The SAT does not have a science section but sprinkles science questions throughout the exam.
Tip # 4 – Create a Plan
A plan allows you to achieve a goal, in this case, a target score. Break it down into bite-size doable pieces. Investigate the colleges and scholarships you are considering and their required ACT/SAT score. Compare it to your practice test score to determine the difference between your actual and target score.
To act while your memory is fresh, consider taking the next available exam date for the ACT or SAT in your junior year if you did well on the PreACT or PSAT. If you didn’t do well, give yourself some time to improve your results.
Next, decide on test dates while weighing the dates against all your junior year family, academic, and extra-curricular commitments. Consider taking the test at least twice. Register early to secure a seat in your own city/state to avoid traveling far on test days.
Grab your calendar, block out study times and get to work using our learning style tips to improve ACT and SAT scores.
Tip #5 – Prep, and Prepare to Prep Again!
Test prep should not be an afterthought or something you fit in. Too much is at stake.
If you’re aiming to score National Merit Scholarship, commit to prepping through the tail end of the summer as well as the fall as a rising junior. As a junior designate winter break for prep also. Think about adding ACT/SAT prep to your study schedule before picking junior year classes. Buy strategy and prep books as well as consider taking the ACT/SAT test preparation courses. When considering this, we strongly suggest you match your learning style to class size and teaching style. You can either pay for classes or consider Khan Academy, which is free. To improve your score look for patterns in your incorrect answers.
Study, using our preferred environmental style tips.
Do you need a snack and/or drink to enhance concentration? Practice at home with them and make sure you also bring it with you on test day. Do you need breaks? Take them when offered. Is temperature a concern? Take a blanket or sweater with you.
Regardless of which exam you decide to take, the goal is the same – to earn a score that shows you’re ready for college.
We enjoy helping students discover their learning style as well as sharing tips to help them thrive. Contact us today for a free consult.