Nobody likes standardized tests. But one has to be better than the other – right? Right?


Pencils out!

Ingrid Alberding, College Corner Section Editor

College. That terrifying yet exciting word that signals something just over the horizon for many iUniversity Prep high school students. Most colleges, especially public colleges, require the ACT/SAT. It’s a common myth that some colleges prefer the SAT over the ACT, or vice versa. In this harrowing modern age, virtually all colleges and universities accept both and there is no advantage or disadvantage in regards to admission in submitting either. For instance, if you get a 1600 (a perfect score on the SAT) and a 36 (a perfect score on the ACT), colleges won’t look at either of those scores differently.

There are, however, several significant differences between the two tests. The ACT has four parts (five, if you take the essay) and the SAT has three parts (four, if you take the essay). As an aside, most colleges do not require the essay portion although it cannot hurt your application. Moreover, while the SAT has only two English sections (writing, which consists more of editing; and reading, which is more comprehension) and a math section, the ACT has two English sections (writing and reading), math, and science. Do not fear, you don’t need any concrete scientific knowledge to ace the science portion – your success hinges more on how well you can analyze data and charts and “problem solve” than whether or not you know what an amoeba is. Consequently, since in the ACT the math is only a fourth rather than rather than a third of the composite score, for those who aren’t the best at mathematics, the ACT might be a better choice. At the same time, if you’re absolutely abysmal at data analysis, maybe the SAT is better. Finally, the regular ACT and SAT without writing is two hours and fifty-five minutes, and three hours, respectively.

Neither test is “easy”; on either you will face your own set of challenges. Consider your talents and conversely, your low points, and from there determine which you may take. And don’t forget, you can always take both.

Whatever you choose, aim to take either/both tests at least two times each for the optimal score. Good luck on your standardized testing adventures!