Varsity Advice

“Empowering The High School Student Athlete”

Is ACT or SAT best for you? – April 5, 2010

Filed under: Study Tips — Varsity Mentoring @ 12:30 pm

Is ACT or SAT best for you?

The ACT has always offered Score Choice; students can take the test as often as they wish but only report their best single test date to colleges. Beginning with this year’s graduating class, the SAT now offers the Score Choice option. However, many schools are still requesting all scores from all test dates. Check the policies at each college.

SAT fits student who …

Did well on the PSAT with little or no prep work.

Is a strong reader with a good vocabulary.

Has good recall for historical or literature examples for the essay.

Possesses strong deductive reasoning and is test-savvy.

Is focused and good at puzzles.

Has ear for languages; easily identifies sentence errors.

Is a bright underachiever.

ACT fits student who …

Did well on the PLAN (the PSAT for the ACT).

Earned a PSAT score that is inconsistent with grades and effort.

Reads fast but is not so strong in vocabulary.

Knows grammar and punctuation.

Performs well academically but is likely to experience test anxiety.

Is a “book-smart overachiever” but not the best test-taker.

Is great at writing argumentative essays about everyday issues.

Works quickly – more questions and less time, but less reasoning required.

Test strategies for both

Take practice tests and learn the test directions now.

Write in the test booklet. It’s okay to do scratch work and cross out wrong answers.

Check the grid sheet often to make sure you’re answers align correctly.

Don’t spend too much time on any one question – the easy, medium and hard questions are all worth the same.

Know when to guess. There’s no penalty on the ACT, so respond to every question. On the SAT there is a 1/4 point penalty, so try to eliminate at least one choice, hopefully two. There is no deduction for omitted answers.

Reading sections: Try to complete the fill-in-the-blanks with words that make sense to you, and then look for their synonyms.

Comprehension sections: The first and last sentences of each paragraph are critical.

Math: Questions go in order of difficulty with easy questions first.

SAT Student Produced Response (Grid): No penalty for wrong answers, so guessing makes sense.

Here’s what I’d do

My recommendation is that students take both free practice tests online to determine which test suits them best. You can find a concordance chart to compare results at and type “SAT concordance” in the search box

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