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SAT or ACT…that is the question.

Every college-bound high school student is, at one point or another, faced with this conundrum. Do I take the SAT or the ACT? If I take the ACT, should I take it with Writing? Will I need to take SAT Subject Tests if I take the ACT? And the answer is maybe, perhaps, it depends.

Just as there is no definitive answer to Shakespeare’s famous query, so there is no cut and dried response to this question. First and foremost, do your research. Today most, if not all, colleges that require standardized tests for admission accept either the SAT or the ACT, without preference. So, first check the schools’ websites to confirm, and then the choice is yours. Be aware, however, that many schools that accept the ACT require the optional Writing section, and plan accordingly. Further, determine whether the schools in question will still require specific SAT Subject Tests if you submit the ACT. Many colleges will accept the ACT in lieu of their required Subject Tests, but others still require them. The next step is to look at the tests themselves. The test format and material covered is different. The SAT (3 hours 45 minutes) covers Critical Reading, Math and Writing (including grammar and a written essay), while the ACT (2 hours 55 minutes) includes English, Math, Reading and Science and an optional Writing segment (30 additional minutes). As a general statement, the ACT is curriculum-based, while the SAT is aimed more at general reasoning and problem-solving skills. Often, students find that the format and specific subject matter of one type of test works better for them than the other. Review the prep books, take some practice tests, and see which exam affords you the opportunity to best display your academic abilities.


Leslie Berkovits, Collegistics

Collegistics provides comprehensive services to students and parents who are embarking on, or in the midst of, the college application process. Providing families the benefit of seven advisors, Collegistics uses a team approach, offering the kind of practical and emotional support that results in an informed and less stressful college application experience. If you have any questions about the college process you would like to see addressed in future issues, email: info@collegistics.com or call: (914) 722-6050. Please visit our website at www.collegistics.com for further information.

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