09 Mar SAT or ACT: What to choose?
Throughout high school, you’ve been told repeatedly how important it is to score well on the ACT and SAT if you intend on going to college abroad. These standardized tests are used to measure key skills like reading comprehension, computational ability, and clarity of expression. In order to assess your readiness for college level work, the ACT/SATs are intentionally made to be difficult. While your score is not the sole determinant for college admissions, it is an important part of the set of criteria that colleges consider when making admissions decisions.
To get the best possible score, it is necessary to properly prepare for these exams. If you have yet to begin preparing for the ACT/SAT, or if you are unsure about how to start, then this guide is for you!
ACT/SAT is accepted not only by all colleges and universities in United States but many universities around the globe including Canada, UK, Germany and many more. Every university in United States accepts both ACT as well as SAT test scores, most institutions do not prefer one test over the other. Many students and parents begin the college prep process by comparing the ACT and SAT tests. The SAT and ACT generally cover the same topics. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and in some cases, awarding merit-based scholarships. You can choose to give multiple ACT/SATs and send your best score to the selected universities.
ACT or SAT? HOW TO DECIDE?
The best way to decide if taking the SAT, ACT, or both tests, is right for you is to take a timed full-length practice test of each test and get a feel of the real test to determine your comfort.
Since the style of the SAT and ACT is similar, factors like how you handle time pressure and what types of questions you find most challenging can help you determine which test is a better fit.
SAT is great if you are more comfortable with English, and ACT for data and analysis for the science part.
ACT tests speed and SAT tests endurance. Check which is your strength.
THE STARTING POINT
Whether you are months away from your exam, or weeks, your first test-prep step should be completing a practice exam. A simple online search will reveal that there are some free practice tests available online. Completing one of these tests is a good way to learn about the overall structure and format of the ACT/SAT, and a means to familiarize yourself with the content and question styles of each test. Additionally, the practice exam will also help you figure out your strong and weak areas. The ACT/SAT covers material from the first grade, to your second year in high school, so don’t be discouraged if you are unsatisfied with your practice exam score. Adjust your perspective and see this as an opportunity to learn!
WORK SMARTER, AND HARDER
To get good at anything, you must practice. Improve your scores by utilizing ACT/SAT prep books or online sites to learn about test taking strategies, and practice sample questions. It is important to note that there are a multitude of choices available on the market, so be sure to pick a good one. A key indicator of a good test-prep resource is one that shows you how to solve a question from step one. It is unhelpful to provide just the right answers to questions, without providing sufficient explanation as to why it’s correct and why the others are wrong. In addition to picking a good resource, also be sure to actually use it. Make a study schedule, and try to stick to it as much as possible.
Superscoring is a system by which a college will consider scores of the subsections across 2 different tests. Both SAT and ACT offer superscoring. Let’s look at an example to explain this clearly.
A student attempts SAT twice. In test 1, the student scores, let’s say, 1400- 700 in the math section and 700 in the verbal Section. In test 2, the student scores 1400 again, but this time Its 750 in Math, and 650 in Verbal. Superscoring can allow a student to choose his best subscore and submit it. However, if a university will accept this or not, is best known by going through the college website.
TIPS TO PREPARE FOR ACT
Log onto to www.actstudent.org and check the plethora of information given. You can download the free study guide, which tells you about all the four sections of the test, it also includes a full-length ACT test prep.
You can register for ACT question of the day on the same website; you will get asked 1 question everyday which will help you prepare for the ACT test.
The ACT official prep guide – includes 4 practice tests
Visit ACT academy online
TIPS TO PREPARE FOR SAT
Official practice tests by the College Board gives an aspirant a good idea about the structure of the test and is an excellent replication of the original. https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/sat/practice-preparation/practice-tests
Khan Academy is also an excellent resource, which is free, effective and official! The content has vast preparation material.
Princeton and Kaplan also provide free practice tests and study material.
The Official SAT Study Guide - As the name suggests, it is the “official” holy grail for SAT test-takers.
READ A LOT, AND THEN READ SOME MORE
In our work we have seen Indian students struggle with the English section more than Math. It is mostly to do with very limited reading in our academic programs. Success on the ACT/SAT depends on your ability to think critically, focus, and interpret complex writing. To do well on these standardized tests, lots of reading is a must. In addition to the test prep books mentioned above, read dense non-fiction books; the more sleep inducing, the better. Going through tough non-fiction books will improve your vocabulary and get you accustomed to reading lengthy passages.
SLEEP AND EAT WELL
The stress of the test, along with having to juggle school assignments and exams, can take a toll on you. To be honest, you may even feel like you are on a treadmill that refuses to shut off! While the teenage mind can thrive in the night, you must set some discipline over a period to ace any test or exam. Try and get into a routine where you get a good 10 hours of sleep. Add nutritious, wholesome meals to this, and the combination will work wonders for you.
TEST TAKING STRATEGIES
Practice two full-length tests (at least) in real test scenario. It is important to pace yourself during ACT/SAT as both are lengthy tests.
Read the directions very carefully, for example, English, Reading, Science tests ask for ‘Best’ answer while Math test asks for the ‘CORRECT’ answer.
Read each question carefully and answer EVERY question, as there are no negative markings for ACT/SAT. Answer all the easy questions first and use logic on more difficult questions.
Make notes for revision.
Devote 2/3rd of your time to correct past mistakes and 1/3rd of your time in learning new concepts. Don’t keep taking tests and making same mistakes.
Is SAT/ACT optional?
This is a big question and needs some pondering upon. Clearly, some universities don’t ask for the score. And that’s that. And some clearly state ‘test-optional’, which implies that you could submit the score or not. But this is a dilemma. Will not submitting the test score be held against your admission? Let’s try and break this down and see if we can come up with an answer.
During the pandemic, most universities waived off the test requirement due to limited testing availabilities across the world. But this was a unique situation. Should you take the test if you are able to? We think it’s a good idea to take the test especially because it can help the application in the following ways:
In case of a requirement of a scholarship or financial aid, a good score can help in boosting your academic prowess, thereby making you eligible for consideration
Let’s suppose you have a low grade, or your academic score fell in your study years due to personal reasons? A SAT/ACT score can help balance your grades out and prove to the University that you are able to handle the academic rigor of the programme.
As per industry knowledge, these are the indicative score requirements by the top 20 colleges in the US. However, these scores do not guarantee an admission.
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