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Should students take the SAT or the ACT?


Thursday, November 13, 2014

As high school students begin to think about college, they are faced with many tough questions — which schools to consider, what they should major in and which scholarships are they eligible for. However, what may be the most pressing question is whether to take the SAT or the ACT — the two standardized tests colleges consider as part of the application process.

Common misconceptions
According to a recent study, the SAT is typically chosen for the wrong reasons. A Kaplan Test Prep survey found that 33 percent of students opted for the SAT because they felt it was more widely accepted than the ACT. However, this is an inaccurate assumption. While there was a time when many colleges did not accept the ACT, it's now considered at all colleges, as is the SAT. Other reasons for choosing the SAT included following friends' leads and guidance counselors' recommendations.

Despite these misconceptions, more test takers have opted for the ACT, the survey found. Since 2012, more students have taken the ACT than the SAT. Over 1.8 million class of 2014 graduates took the ACT, while 1.7 million chose to take the SAT.

How to decide
Since both tests take hours to complete and are interchangeable when applying to colleges, it's completely up to the individual to decide which is the better one to take. As a rule of thumb, the ACT typically appeals to those who feel they do not do well on standardized tests, as it is considered more curriculum-based while the SAT requires more test-taking strategy. When trying to decide between the two, representatives at Kaplan recommended taking practice tests.

"At Kaplan we believe that if you're planning to take only one of the two tests, the best strategy is to take practice tests for the SAT and the ACT, see which one you score higher on, and then focus on that one," Kate Hurley, Kaplan SAT and ACT programs manager, said in a press release.

While the best way of deciding may be to take practice exams, only 16 percent of the survey respondents reportedly used that as their basis for choosing the SAT over the ACT.

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