SAT vs ACT

stacey

My child isn't sure which to take (not a good test taker). Is it foolish to sign up for both - and use whichever is a better help in college acceptances?  


joan crystal

Does your child know to which college s/he intends to/has applied?  Some colleges may prefer one test over the other.  That information should be readily available and could help your child decide which test(s) to take.


stacey
joan_crystal said:
Does your child know to which college s/he intends to/has applied?  Some colleges may prefer one test over the other.  That information should be readily available and could help your child decide which test(s) to take.

 thanks.  no idea - at all. 


mayhewdrive
taaj said:
My child isn't sure which to take (not a good test taker). Is it foolish to sign up for both - and use whichever is a better help in college acceptances?  

 Best bet is to take a practice test of both and see where they do better and then focus there. Most schools take either equally. 


cubby
mayhewdrive said:


taaj said:
My child isn't sure which to take (not a good test taker). Is it foolish to sign up for both - and use whichever is a better help in college acceptances?  
 Best bet is to take a practice test of both and see where they do better and then focus there. Most schools take either equally. 

 Exactly this. He can take free pracitce tests and see if he does significantly better on one or the other. If he is stronger in one, I'd suggest focusing on that one test and trying to improve the score. Princeton Review offers free practice SATs at different sites (I think they have one in Madison.) I'm sure he can also do a free ACT, just not sure where but someone will probably know.



chalmers

Most test prep companies offer a free practice test of both so you can see which your child does better on.  We used Breakaway Prep and another option is C2 Education.  Academic Journeys in Millburn offers a different kind of testing to see your child's strengths. The colleges seem to accept both tests equally.


wendyn

Some places also offer one test that figures out which would be best for your child, instead of taking full Sat or act test.  I know here in Millburn HS in the fall they coordinate a “which test should I take” test with a vendor (so not free but it wasn’t too expensive as I remember) on a Saturday in the fall sometime.


More advice from Princeton Review:

https://www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-act 


joy

Mine took both. While the scores were similar - there is a chart that lists what a ACT score would be in an SAT and visa versa. They are two different types of testing. 

I signed my then junior up for the SAT just for a baseline with no studying. She did really well. We worked with a tutor to see if she could get a better score - she did but not as much as she hoped. On a whim, she did the ACT and did better - that test was better suited for her testing style.

So I agree with everyone else - take a few practice tests.

And don't bother with the essay or subject tests. Unless they know where they are going and that school requires it, don't bother. It's wasted $ and the College Board gets way too much as it is.


tweezer

I'd avoid burning one of the official tests in order to just set a baseline, unless you're on a really aggressive timeline (think: late Summer, rising senior who's never tested before). Rising juniors have plenty of time to test the waters at this point, and there are too many options for free practice tests to pass up on the opportunity to see which test is the best fit between the SAT and ACT. 

To be clear, while plenty of schools are going test optional, none prefer the SAT to the ACT or vice versa. That being said, schools do differ in their policies in terms of essay requirements and "super-scoring." Some schools who allow super-scoring for the SAT do not allow it for the ACT, and when they do allow the ACT super scoring, schools may differ in how they actually combine the scores. 

In the end, the strongest score is the one a student should pursue, and there are concordance tables that help figure out equivalent scores across each test - make sure the concordance table you're looking is the most recent one updated last year. Even when scores are comparable, students may feel strongly one way or another about each test, and they should go after the one they feel most confident with.

Combo tests that give students a quick preview of each test may be helpful for some students, but data suggests they are largely useless in truly determining which test is the best fit. Students can get a feel of the content differences, but in terms of endurance, pacing, etc., they'll only get an accurate idea from an official, full-length practice test. 

There are plenty of options for test prep in the area locally - just make sure whoever you use for a free practice test is using official, full-length practice tests, produced either by the College Board or the ACT. Some companies will provide free diagnostic tests they write themselves to be slightly harder, which provide deflated scores, and make it easier to sell you on tutoring. Avoid those places, or anywhere that tries to sell you test prep before a student has finished at least a minimum of one semester of algebra 2. With few exceptions, students are simply not ready to prepare for these tests before they've seen that level of math. 

If you'd like to learn more about the differences between the two tests, you should check out a free webinar my company holds every few weeks. There's one tomorrow evening, and if you can't make it, as long as you register you should receive the recording and presentation. 

You can sign up here: 

https://www.applerouth.com/signup/?scheduleid=340432

I have a pdf I can share that highlights the differences between the tests as well. You can PM me if you'd like me to forward it to you!





joy

I can't see a downside of taking a test without studying as a benchmark - except for the cost. 


j r

The issue may be that regardless of how a school composes a superscore, admissions officers see all scores.


yahooyahoo
cubby said:


mayhewdrive said:

taaj said:
My child isn't sure which to take (not a good test taker). Is it foolish to sign up for both - and use whichever is a better help in college acceptances?  
 Best bet is to take a practice test of both and see where they do better and then focus there. Most schools take either equally. 
 Exactly this. He can take free pracitce tests and see if he does significantly better on one or the other. If he is stronger in one, I'd suggest focusing on that one test and trying to improve the score. Princeton Review offers free practice SATs at different sites (I think they have one in Madison.) I'm sure he can also do a free ACT, just not sure where but someone will probably know.


Double exactly this.

There are charts available to compare the ACT score to the SAT score.  You can see on which test your child is excelling.


bella

I took both (granted this was in 1991/1992) because at that time the ACT was primarily used by mid-western schools, but I was from NJ (living in OH) so I wanted to have the SATs as well for east coast schools.

I found that I did much better on the ACT than the SAT (29 on the ACT and 1160 on the SAT).  I don't remember the breakdown of  my SAT scores, but I know that I didn't have a perfect score on my English/verbal despite having a 36 on the ACT's equivalent section.

This was before taking prep classes was de rigueur for most high school students, it was purely take the test & be done with it for me (although, I can imagine that if my ACT score had been lower, I would have retaken them & perhaps been forced to crack open a prep book by my parents).



cubby
joy said:
I can't see a downside of taking a test without studying as a benchmark - except for the cost. 

 The downside is that the student may have to send the test results to colleges that require all scores.  Why would you want the student to have to send their lowest score to a school? The student gets a  of maximum 3 shots at the test (yes, a student can take the test more than 3 times but it is frowned upon to do so.). Use them wisely and hope that the student is pleased with their scores after one or tow times. As suggested by other posters, the best way to get a baseline is by taking a free, full length test. 


joy
cubby said:
 The downside is that the student may have to send the test results to colleges that require all scores.  Why would you want the student to have to send their lowest score to a school? The student gets a  of maximum 3 shots at the test (yes, a student can take the test more than 3 times but it is frowned upon to do so.). Use them wisely and hope that the student is pleased with their scores after one or tow times. As suggested by other posters, the best way to get a baseline is by taking a free, full length test. 

This is all news to me. Not once was it mentioned anywhere or anytime between the tutor, college counselor or CHS guidance or any other parent and I'm not one to be under a rock. I'm one of the admins for the CHS group. Please post a link to show me where this is reported - because this is important. Also my kid didn't pick any elite schools that required all test scores - not one. Another poster said that admin sees all the scores...why the hell did I have to pay $14 each to send the scores to the schools then? Please show your sources. 


ctrzaska
joy said:


cubby said:
 The downside is that the student may have to send the test results to colleges that require all scores.  Why would you want the student to have to send their lowest score to a school? The student gets a  of maximum 3 shots at the test (yes, a student can take the test more than 3 times but it is frowned upon to do so.). Use them wisely and hope that the student is pleased with their scores after one or tow times. As suggested by other posters, the best way to get a baseline is by taking a free, full length test. 
This is all news to me. Not once was it mentioned anywhere or anytime between the tutor, college counselor or CHS guidance or any other parent and I'm not one to be under a rock. I'm one of the admins for the CHS group. Please post a link to show me where this is reported - because this is important. Also my kid didn't pick any elite schools that required all test scores - not one. Another poster said that admin sees all the scores...why the hell did I have to pay $14 each to send the scores to the schools then? Please show your sources. 

You can’t just send a math score from one SAT and English from another.  Also, some colleges require ALL scores be sent (Georgetown, GW, et.al.), thus knowing where you might want to apply for a top choice is important if one is considering sitting for a real test as a practice.  Those schools may only use the highest but will see all of them. 


joy

According to Dave's link - 

"Students will be encouraged to follow the score-reporting requirements of each college to which they apply, but their scores will not be released for admission purposes without their specific consent . Colleges and universities will only receive the scores that students send them"



weirdbeard
joy said:
According to Dave's link - 
"Students will be encouraged to follow the score-reporting requirements of each college to which they apply, but their scores will not be released for admission purposes without their specific consent . Colleges and universities will only receive the scores that students send them"

 Yes, but the colleges all know how many tests you've sat for, and if they require all scores, or the highest in one sitting, they will require you to release them all before they will consider your application.


DaveSchmidt
joy said:
According to Dave's link - 
"Students will be encouraged to follow the score-reporting requirements of each college to which they apply, but their scores will not be released for admission purposes without their specific consent . Colleges and universities will only receive the scores that students send them"

The college my son attends requires all scores, so if he had taken the SAT just to see what his benchmark was, it would have counted in the college’s admissions decision. It’s true that the college wouldn’t have gotten all his scores without consent, but without consent it wouldn’t have considered his application, either.

I guess this raises the question of how a college knows whether you’ve sent all scores or not. I don’t know the answer.


yahooyahoo

The College Board and colleges/universities effectively have a cartel and, in my opinion, work together to keep the money rolling.


j r

I guess this raises the question of how a college knows whether you’ve sent all scores or not. I don’t know the answer.

 My experience isn't quite current, but if I remember the process correctly, a request to send scores to a particular college releases scores for all test sittings, and the college (not the applicant, not the CB) uses the data to produce the superscore (or whatever their criteria might be). Once a student makes a request to send scores, the CB sends updates to designated colleges with scores from later attempts at the test. 

At the time my students were applying, there was a point in the designation/payment process where you could view on the CB website the score-send requirements for each college and the data the admissions office would see; not sure if that is still the case.

The SAT offers a Score Choice option, which authorizes only the release of (all) scores from a single sitting. Not all colleges accept the Score Choice option, and there seems to be some debate around whether it's apparent to admissions readers that a student has used it, and whether it might be viewed in a negative way.


yahooyahoo
j_r said:



I guess this raises the question of how a college knows whether you’ve sent all scores or not. I don’t know the answer.
 My experience isn't quite current, but if I remember the process correctly, a request to send scores to a particular college releases scores for all test sittings, and the college (not the applicant, not the CB) uses the data to produce the superscore (or whatever their criteria might be). Once a student makes a request to send scores, the CB sends updates to designated colleges with scores from later attempts at the test. 
At the time my students were applying, there was a point in the designation/payment process where you could view on the CB website the score-send requirements for each college and the data the admissions office would see; not sure if that is still the case.
The SAT offers a Score Choice option, which authorizes only the release of (all) scores from a single sitting. Not all colleges accept the Score Choice option, and there seems to be some debate around whether it's apparent to admissions readers that a student has used it, and whether it might be viewed in a negative way.

It depends on the school. Some schools request all sittings and some schools only request one score, it's up to you to choose.



cubby

1.https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/scores/sending-scores/score-choice Read the first paragraph in which it is stated that some colleges require all scores.

2.https://blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-requiring-all-sat-scores-complete-list

joy said:


cubby said:
 The downside is that the student may have to send the test results to colleges that require all scores.  Why would you want the student to have to send their lowest score to a school? The student gets a  of maximum 3 shots at the test (yes, a student can take the test more than 3 times but it is frowned upon to do so.). Use them wisely and hope that the student is pleased with their scores after one or tow times. As suggested by other posters, the best way to get a baseline is by taking a free, full length test. 
This is all news to me. Not once was it mentioned anywhere or anytime between the tutor, college counselor or CHS guidance or any other parent and I'm not one to be under a rock. I'm one of the admins for the CHS group. Please post a link to show me where this is reported - because this is important. Also my kid didn't pick any elite schools that required all test scores - not one. Another poster said that admin sees all the scores...why the hell did I have to pay $14 each to send the scores to the schools then? Please show your sources. 

 


berkeley

To go back to the first post where you said your son is not a good test taker:

A LOT of schools are test optional now. The exceptions seem to be the state universities and even there you will find some that are. We didn't look at the "top 20"/elite group, so I don't know what the policy is there, but once you step out of that space, test optional is very common. So you only send the scores if you think they will help. Or just choose not to take the tests and go with grades/resume/reccs.




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