ACT or SAT? How do I decide?

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Early in the college application process, students are faced with a huge question: do I take the ACT, the SAT, or BOTH???  

For starters, ALL colleges and universities accept BOTH the ACT and the SAT, so you do not have to stress about preparing for two separate tests. Just pick one test to focus on and prepare for! 

Here are a few easy steps to help you make the decision of which test to take:

1. Take a diagnostic ACT and SAT.  (You do not have to prepare for diagnostic tests; in fact, it’s better if you don’t!)

Make sure to take both tests and make sure that you are taking real tests!  There are companies that offer “hybrid ACT/SAT” tests that give students a blended test, but this makes it harder for students to truly know which test is the best fit because the questions were not real test questions!

2. Once you have your baseline scores, ask for advice!  

Are your scores similar on both tests?  Did you have a personal preference when you took the tests?  Or is there one test that you scored significantly higher on (this could be a point or two difference, but a higher score on a diagnostic generally points to a higher growth potential on the test)?  

3. Decide which test to take!

Many students are overwhelmed at the prospect of deciding between the ACT and SAT.  And that’s totally okay! If after taking the diagnostic tests, you are still confused or unsure about which test is the better fit, come in for your first session and you and your tutor can discuss the scores, the pros and cons of both tests, and what they think is the best fit.  You definitely don’t have to make the decision alone!

Below is a chart comparing the two tests by the numbers:

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Overall, the ACT is the faster test: it requires students to read the information presented and evaluate and answer more questions in less time.  But, the questions are more straightforward, and easier to answer than similar questions on the SAT.

The SAT does give students more time per question, but the questions themselves are longer and the language is less direct. 

The #1 way to determine which test is right for you is to take a diagnostic ACT and SAT, and compare your scores, as well as your experiences of both tests.  Pivot Tutors offers diagnostic tests almost every Saturday, and students take a real ACT and SAT test to determine which test they have the highest score potential on.  Call or email us today to reserve your spot today! 

-Lianna Carrigan, Program Director, Pivot Tutors