December 23, 2015

SAT vs. ACT

SAT vs. ACT
Matt Nadel ‘17


Standardized tests – they are a pain to take but every high school student that wants to go to college must take them. Two standardized tests dominate the college acceptance landscape: the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Testing exam. Both the SAT and ACT are accepted by almost all colleges in the United States, but most students are still unsure which is the best exam to take.

Dr. Kanrich, GOA’s college guidance counselor, has a very simple solution to this decision.

“Strong students tend to do well on both exams,” Kanrich said. “Students who perform well in school, but are not good at taking standardized tests, tend to do better on the ACT.”

The ACT is generally the more popular of the two tests. Its questions require practical thinking and test students on subjects actually learned in school. The passages in the reading sections are generally easier to comprehend and the math is more advanced on the ACT than that on the SAT, but most people seem to perform better.

“The ACT is easier, plain and simple,” said senior Dylan Mendelowitz. “The SAT is much more complicated.”

Despite the SAT being much more complicated, people still like to take it. Its critical reading sections and vocabulary are challenging, but the test makes students focus on improving reading comprehension. The math section is also significantly simpler. While the ACT’s math includes calculus, the most demanding math problem on the SAT is an Algebra 2 problem.

“I took the SAT because it gave more time per questions and a greater opportunity to reason answers,” senior Andrew Schwartz said.

An important part of both tests is, like Schwartz explained, how much time students have to take each test. The SAT allows more time per question, providing students more time to either make educated guesses or decipher a tough answer, while the ACT gives students on average less than a minute to answer each question.

The SAT is changing, however, and no one really knows what to expect for the new test because it is still being created. In the meantime, students considering taking the SAT prior to the January 2016 alterations still have to decide whether to take the exam or select the ACT instead.

“Every student has strengths and weaknesses in different areas,” said guidance counselor Ms. Trinker thinks. “It is important to know yourself, recognize your learning style and make an educated choice.”


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