Hi, folks! One of the most common questions I receive is whether to take the SAT or ACT- or both. It's an excellent question, particularly because there are several different opinions on the subject. I'd like to share mine with you and outline a few important perspectives on standardized testing in general.
Some people think it's best to take both exams to see how the student performs on each. While it is not necessarily a bad idea to take both exams, the way in which you do so can mean the difference between student success and overload.
Here's what I mean: Taking a half-day exam like the SAT or ACT is grueling. Make no mistake- students are exhausted when it's all over. I don't believe in sending my students into either test unprepared- ever. I've seen enough students who have gone into a test cold become traumatized by their experience and now have to deal with increased anxiety because of it. So my first rule is: Always prepare for the SAT or ACT. Do not go into the test cold.
But do you have to take both tests? Not necessarily, but here's how to decide. I think it's easier to get an impressive score increase on the SAT than on the ACT, so I typically advise students who have no experience either way to start with the SAT. There are, of course, students who come to me having already tried both tests and clearly prefer the ACT. If their ACT scores are higher than their SAT scores, then I advise them to stick with the test they prefer. But only if their scores are higher! Choosing a test based on personal preference doesn't necessarily result in higher scores, and we must remember that our bottom line is the highest score possible. That must be our guiding light when choosing between the SAT and ACT.
OK, back to the question- do you have to take both tests? Let's say you've prepped, taken the SAT, and done pretty well. Now you're curious about how well you could do on the ACT. Should you go for it? The best way to find out is to take a practice exam. You do not need to sign up for the real ACT. Decide first whether it's worth your valuable time and energy. Take a practice exam (you can pick one up at the counseling office at school), score it, then give us a call. We can help you translate your ACT score into an SAT score. If your ACT scores are better than your SAT scores, then by all means, it makes sense to prep for and take the ACT. If they are the same or worse, you can forget about the ACT altogether.
One less thing, right? The more you can take off your plate during this busy time, the better. So don't assume you are saddled with the SAT, ACT, and Subject Tests (a subject for a different newsletter!). Call us any time to get some help in figuring the whole thing out. Testing doesn't have to be an overwhelming process. We can make it easy.