Don’t like the ACT? Completely unsure which to take? Maybe you need to look at our 10 Reasons to Take the SAT instead!
We compiled this as a followup to our 10 Reasons to take the ACT post. As we said in our last post, please use this advice in conjunction with proper guidance counseling and keep in mind that what works for many may not work for you.
And if you’re really unsure, email us at email@example.com to sign up for a Saturday practice test (or two) to try one out!
Without further ado:
1. There’s a summer SAT this year! August 26th 2017 is the official summer SAT date. For some schools this is still after school has started, but for many it is before your summer homework is due and Junior/Senior year classes have begun.
2. Khan Academy gives away plenty of practice material, and the practice tests are all available free online at collegeboard.org.
3. You’ll be able to compare your score to your parents – the test has returned to a 1600 scale so your parents may actually know what your score means.
4. The test is common-core aligned in the math, which may mean it’s easier for you.
5. The math section is more algebra focused than the ACT, so if you’ve done well in classes, you may find it easier than the ACT with vectors, matrices, pre-calc, probability, and statistics.
6. The passages read more similarly to AP Lit and AP Lang passages, so if you are taking an AP English (or equivalent), the reading may be easier.
7. There is less of an emphasis on the grammar portion of the English section, so less new material to master to get a perfect score.
8. The math counts more heavily into the total on the SAT, and there’s no Science.
9. You have already started practicing if you’ve taken the PSAT. (And if you haven’t, you easily can by going to Khan Academy!).
10. The SAT is developed by ETS, the same company who develops the CAASPP, the GRE, the AP tests, and the PSAT. While all of the tests are different assessments, there will be some level of overlap, i.e. preparing for one will help you prepare for the others as well.
Deciding between tests? Not sure which one is the one for you? Common knowledge of the differences between the SAT and ACT abound (the ACT is faster, the SAT doesn’t have a science section), but it can be hard to separate the fact from the fiction. As with anything we say, be sure to use this in conjunction with proper guidance counseling and a look at what works best for you individually.
1. It’s easier to improve your score because it’s more content dependent, i.e. you can learn the content and your score will go up.
2. True score choice (choosing who to send your reports to) is built into the ACT. Schools only see what you send because the score reports are stored separately from each other. On the SAT, all of them are stored under your student name/ID, so you have to actively suppress scores from schools if you don’t want to see them. Which leads me to my next reason…
3. You can remove your test records if you really don’t want colleges to see them.
4. The Science counts equally with the Math, so if AP Bio and Chem were strengths for you, this may be the best option.
5. The English portion is more grammar dependent on the ACT than the SAT, so you can learn the grammar rules and improve your score more. For a free resource, see Meltzer’s blog (http://thecriticalreader.com/complete-sat-grammar-rules/), or purchase her Ultimate Guide to the ACT English.
6. The test is faster, which means the questions can’t possibly be as difficult as the SAT questions. This translates to an absolute necessity that the questions are inherently more straightforward.
7. Students scores tend to go up each time they take the test as concluded by ACT’s own research (see http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/2016-Tech-Brief-MultipleTesters.pdf).
8. Some schools still require the Subject Tests if you take the SAT, but not if you take the ACT.
9. There is a bigger “top tier.” If a 30 matches up to a 1390-1410 SAT score, then the “top tier” can be considered all the scores above that threshold. However, 30 sounds better! This is admittedly the worst reason on the list, but appearance of your score is a real thing.
10. The ACT Profile career matching tool is available for free on the website as part of the EOS, and has been said by several to be one of the best tools out there for determining future careers. (Although it looks like you can still use it for free even if you don’t sign up for an ACT.)
Peter and I have been feverishly brainstorming a new kind of bootcamp for the SAT, set to start this summer. We will be incorporating the same rigorous standards we bring to our sessions in a fast, engaging pace based on research from the cognitive science field. The classes will be designed to take advantage of a small group setting.
Interested families can join our mailing list here (https://goo.gl/forms/BlkFaHcFBSn8vXO92). Future details will be released first to the interested list before being featured on our monthly newsletter.
Thanks to a tip from a parent, we’ve noticed that it looks like more and more California schools are accepting the December ACT test results if they’re received by December 31. If all goes well, both the SAT and the ACT will have the score results back in time for the applications. Last year, not all did go well, but we believe this was due to circumstances that only applied last year.
Recall: the SAT was about to change. They generally were giving themselves longer timelines to return scores and sometimes (like in the case of the PSAT), didn’t even hit those deadlines, missing that deadline by about a month. This year, they have been hitting their deadlines, and have even moved up the return date so that the scores are in to schools on time.
Also, the ACT revamped their essay entirely. The tests were scored, but the essays weren’t graded yet, delaying the full score report until it was too late. As the essay format has not changed since then, we have no reason to expect that the scores will come back behind schedule.
All that being said, with the UC’s and the Cal State’s almost universally accepting the December test date, and assuming the tests come back on time as promised, they still might not make a difference. The UC and Cal State systems close Nov 30, so it is possible they will have finished reviewing your application by the time you send your newest test score in.
So – is it worth it? Perhaps. If you think you can get your score up and you want to try anything you can to do so, it might be worth it. But if you feel like you’ve done a pretty good job and your time would be better spent elsewhere (essays, classwork, heck, even with friends and family), then it may be wise to skip it.
Congratulations seniors, you’re almost there!
P.S. Please reach out if you have any further questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As originally reported in Reuters, a massive data leak of not-yet-administered SAT questions (21 reading passages with ~12 questions each and over 160 math questions) has occurred.
While CollegeBoard has pledged to remove all leaked materials (so no students taking the exams this fall will be affected) prior to the administration, the news is still extremely important as this has been the first time that future material has been leaked, and especially on such a large scale.
Immediate effects beyond the removal of the material are not currently known, but speculations range the gamut from “little impact” to “beginning to question the entire integrity of the SAT.” No such data leaks have been reported for the ACT.
Read on for more speculation and information in this Washington Post article (link included).
Have you spent some time trying to figure out which major you should be? Perplexed at if your major “even matters?” Here’s an awesome visualization to help you answer some of those questions.
Ben Schmidt’s What are are you going to do with that degree? offers us common degrees on the left hand side, common jobs on the right hand side, with all the attached connections between them.
You can also click on individual jobs or majors to see all the streams going out or in.
Does your student require accommodations for the ACT test? Starting June 2016, ACT will provide a new system for students with special needs to request accommodations. Currently, students who require accommodations are asked to work with their guidance counselor and provide several pieces of paper documentation just to start requesting accommodations. This system delays the process of getting their test results and creates more work for students, parents, and school officials. The new system is more streamlined and web-based for greater efficiency. It will allow students to register for the test and begin their accommodations request form online independently, and then work with their school official to complete a single online accommodations request form.
According to ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe, ACT wishes to “minimize the burden on these students and their families and further level the playing field for them” with this new system.
During pilot programs, the new system yielded positive results. ACT officials are hopeful that this new procedure will speed up the college application process by delivering test results an average of 10 days sooner than they are currently delivered.
For more information on what disabilities qualify for ACT test accommodations and the 2015 documentation policy, check out the ACT Policy of Documentation: http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-Policy-for-Documentation.pdf.
To read the new ACT Test Accommodation System official announcement, check out: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/newsroom/act-improvements-to-the-act-test-accommodations.html.
It’s that time of year again, the time to consider subject tests. How many of these questions can you answer yes to?
1. Are you acing one of the following subjects (or doing reasonably well in a very challenging course): Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pre-Calc, Literature, US History, or World History?
2. Are you applying to any of the elite universities that require subject tests?
3. Do you need any additional “indicators of academic success” to show schools that you are more capable than your GPA would otherwise suggest?
If you find yourself answering “Yes” to at least 2 of the 3 questions, you should strongly consider preparing for and taking a subject test this June.
We are hosting subject test practice days this week and next, $10 a test, if you would like to sign up to take one and see where you need to improve. Testers will receive a comprehensive report for each test they take.
A question I’ve been getting a lot lately is whether to continue prep or just wait until the score comes back. There’s not actually a one-size-fits-all answer to the question, but I’ve got some questions for you to consider to help aid in your decision.
1. How did the test feel? How many questions are you reasonably certain you missed? Compare that to a scale in the back of your Official ACT Red book to see what your score may have been, preferably Practice Test 5’s scale. Of course the scales vary a little from test to test, but not significantly. Were you close to your score goal or do you have a ways to go?
2. Have you been prepping a long time and need a break? If you’ve been prepping a long time, it’s more likely that you’ll still remember what you’ve learned in the fall if you take a break, so it won’t be as hard to come back.
3. What does the rest of your Junior year look like? Are AP’s and Subject Tests already starting to overload you? Or are your grades pretty safe? Your junior year GPA is very important to admission to colleges, so taking a break to focus on those may be your best option. But if you have no intention of taking Subject Tests and feel comfortable with your grades, now may be a good time to prep through and just finish with your ACT before the fall tests.
4. What do you want the beginning of your Senior year to look like? Are you prepared to keep prepping then in case your score doesn’t come back quickly enough for you to improve it in June? There will be application essays and brag packets to fill out, and more time can always be spent researching colleges, excelling in your senior classes, or even with friends for your last year.
In short, if you have it in you and you feel like you’re in the phase where you’re still learning a lot from prep, it may be good to prep straight through to June and just be done with it.
If, on the other hand, you have been prepping a long time and need the extra time to study for the end of your Junior year, you may be better off waiting to hear your score and prepping towards the fall tests if need be.
As always, we are happy to help you reach your goals, whatever and whenever they may be!
Anxious about which school is the best school? About how you’re going to afford it and if it will be worth it? Have some time to kill but would rather not spend it playing games on your phone?
While this site won’t solve all your problems nor answer all your questions, it’s one of the best resources I’ve seen. Welcome to College Scorecard (clickable link).
I’ll admit I had heard about it a year or two ago but felt it was likely redundant to other resources out there [like the CollegeBoard’s Big Future (clickable link)].
And it very much does have some redundancies. However, what I like most about it is that it reduces the information to an easily viewable page. And the easily digested information becomes somewhat addicting.
For example, check out the differences between UC Riverside and Cal Poly SLO: average cost at UCR is 11k and the average salary upon graduation is 49k, while with SLO, the average cost is 17k with a salary of 61k. Seems like a pretty “good deal.”
I would in no universe have predicted that UCR was more affordable than SLO, nor that there was a 12k difference in starting salaries. However, this is potentially the difference in having a very strong engineering department and should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because the average salary is 61k does not mean that your salary will be 61k.
Whatever the limitations however, this is a pretty interesting site worth spending some time on whether you are just starting your search or trying to narrow down between the ones you’ve gotten into.