I get this question a lot these days. There weren’t as many people asking this a few years back. However with the increase of ACT marketing in the west coast and the realization that some students do indeed do better on one over the other, students are rightfully wondering which test is better suited for them. Let me give you the final answer first: in the end you should take both. Not necessarily taking the real, proctored exam, but at least buying yourself a book and taking a practice test out of it. The reality though is that the overwhelmingly majority of students will get almost the same equivalent score on both tests. I’ve seen it – most students score the same. But some of you will score better on one over the other and the only real way to find out is to take both practice tests.
After taking both practice tests, a few key questions for you:
Compare how you feel after taking the test with the actual score you got and you can pretty quickly figure out which test to take. You can also come into our offices and take a shorter version of each test. You can spend about 3 hours, get a glimpse of both tests and get a score fairly quickly. For many of us, setting aside 7+ hours to take two full-length tests is a little difficult – especially for our over-scheduled high school students. Thanks and feel free to send us your questions using the form on
Should I Take the SAT Early?
I have a lot of parents who ask this question and there are a lot of misconceptions about the “benefits” of taking it early. The bottom line is that even for stellar students there really is no huge benefit for taking standardized tests early [I’m referring to the SAT or ACT, not SAT Subject Tests which is a different discussion]. There might be a student who has this ultra-knack for taking standardized tests, can easily and confidently score a 2250 on her first shot when she’s an 8th grader and can get away with studying little for the tests. That girl can and should take it early.
But if you’re not her and that’s most of you, most students will naturally do better the further along they are in high school. Students grow and mature both academically and socially. And with the pressure of tests these days, the heartbreak of getting a low score too early may be overly and unnecessarily discouraging. Younger students may be gifted academically, but likely will not have the maturity to bear the bad news of a low score.
I think the bottom line is that there may be more to lose than to gain by taking the tests too early. If in doubt, wait… or ask your trusty college consultant.