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ACT vs. SAT

Should I take the ACT or SAT? The quick answer is that there is no universal answer. Students should take the test on which they score higher.

For many years, I had to assure parents that the school their child was considering actually did accept the ACT. I had to send parents to admissions websites where the clear black letters explained that “either ACT or SAT scores are acceptable” and even then, these same parents were cowed by the received wisdom of other parents, who heard from someone’s grandpa’s uncle’s sister who 5 years ago worked in admissions at Dartmouth, you know, that they preferred the SAT. How much things have changed.

Now some students are hearing from the student grapevine that the ACT is not just a better test, but the preferred one. Again, we have to step in to intervene.
We understand why there may have been this swing. ACT has worked hard for years to overtake the SAT, and in 2012, they did. Awareness of the ACT test has crested, and now there isn’t just an acceptance of its equivalency for admissions, but the consumer – parent and student – perceives the ACT as more “fair” as it has 4 subjects tested (English, Math, Reading, and Science) instead of the SAT’s Reading, Math, and Writing.

Whichever test you end up working on (our advice is to take both free practice tests to see whether the ACT or SAT is better for you), be assured that colleges in America accept both the ACT and SAT as equivalent tests, without preference or prejudice.

On a final note, remember that just as the colleges don’t care which one you take, neither should you. Don’t just say, “Well all my siblings have taken the SAT, so that means I should too.” Maybe the SAT was the right test for them. Maybe they didn’t need prep. Maybe they didn’t work with experts who advised them to take both as practice tests so that they could get a subjective (how did I feel during the test?) and an objective (what was the score?) measure of this decision.