It is the season of standardized tests, and we often receive questions from parents and students about how they should approach the ACT and SAT. There are many factors to consider when planning for these exams, and this month our expert tutors are sharing their tips and guidance on how to determine which tests are best for you and your goals.
One reason to consider taking both the ACT and SAT is increased flexibility when choosing test dates. By opting to take both tests, you have more opportunities to test than you would by just selecting one. This can be particularly helpful if you are involved in activities or athletics that already take up a lot of your schedule.
An advantage of test prep is that in preparing for one test you are also preparing for the other. So even if you have been prepping specifically for the ACT, the work you are doing is also advantageous for the SAT. While the tests are not identical, preparing for one will help you prepare for the other.
Know Your Strengths
Keith Friedman, a Math Test Prep Tutor at TVT, shares an important testing consideration when it comes to math. He says, “Which test you should take might depend on how strong you are at math. Both the SAT and ACT have four sections, and they each have a reading and a language/grammar section. The difference is that the SAT has two math sections, while the ACT has one math section and one science. So the overall score of the SAT is 50% math, while the ACT is only 25% math.”
As you prepare for standardized testing, also look at the schools you are interested in and see if they have any preferences on the test scores they receive. Some schools will have no preference, while others may prefer the ACT or SAT (or both!) Researching this information in advance can help you determine how you should test moving forward.
In both the ACT and SAT there are unique (and different) elements to consider. For example, the ACT science section is broken into six short passages that are very visual (charts, graphs, etc.) As a result, students who tend to be visual or hands-on learners find this to be less challenging. In the SAT, the English section is nearly identical to the ACT. A difference, however, is that the reading comprehension section of the SAT often requires more mental stamina as the passages can be longer and require deeper critical thinking skills.
At the end of the day, preparing for and taking standardized tests like the ACT and SAT is a personal decision. Tutor Kate O’Reilly, shares her insights on the topic:
“Not sure which college entrance exam is right for your student? Have them take both the ACT and SAT early in their junior year to see which one they feel most comfortable with. Once that’s decided, the student can prepare and then retake their preferred test.”
Additionally, tutor Ann Wilson shares recent trends she has noticed:
“I used to recommend that students focus on the ACT first, since that test tends to be a bit easier and more predictable. However, since the pandemic, I’m seeing a more even split between students who prefer the SAT vs. ACT. This could be due to the fact that the SAT provides enough time to finish the test. Currently, I recommend students take both tests early in the testing season to see which one is best for them, and then plan to retake the better of the two, once or twice.”
At TVT we have a team of trained experts who are happy to answer more questions about the ACT and SAT and put together a customized plan for your student to best prepare for either or both tests. We are proud to offer no contracts, but rather meet students where they are for prep. This could mean full prep, prep of only certain sections, or even just one or two sessions to answer questions. We are here for you to meet your needs and help you on the path to success. Learn more and get started today!