Sunday, May 29, 2011


The Battle of the Tests

Choices are great, right? We get to choose which test we want to take. That ought to be a fantastic deal! However, when it comes down to choosing between the SAT and the ACT, the decision may not be so easy. Which test is better? Which test will I do well on? Which test do colleges like?
Well, we live in a world of options. From the Ivy Leagues to the community colleges, it seems that almost all universities today accept both the SAT and the ACT. So it isn’t a matter of impressing a college, but it simply comes down to personal choice. There are many stereotypes concerning the two tests. Some say that boys tend to do better on the SAT and others say that those with a shorter attention span should favor the ACT. Well, how to separate the myth from the fact? It comes down to analyzing yourself with a few simple questions.

1) Do I prefer knowledge based tests or strategy based tests? The SAT tends to prefer using different strategies in order to trick the test taker on even easy questions. The ACT however, is very straightforward with the questions but requires knowledge of more material.

2) Am I good at science? While the science section on the ACT isn’t entirely based on knowledge alone, it does have a science section that requires problem solving and analytical abilities. Hate science? The SAT does not include a science section!

3) Vocabulary or Grammar? Both tests pay strong attention to English. However, the SAT focuses more on vocabulary and strategy based reading comprehension while the ACT tends to pay more attention to grammar, syntax, etc. Don’t like vocabulary or grammar? Well then you’re out of luck.

4) Do I prefer skipping or simply guessing? Well, while neither test is scored more leniently than the other, they both have different methods of scoring. The SAT is based off of 2400 points (which I hope everyone knows by now). The test awards you 1 point for every correct answer, deducts 1/4 of a point for every wrong answer, and gives no points for a blank answer. Yes, this means that skipping is allowed. The ACT on the other hand, grades each section out of 36 and does not deduct any points for wrong answers. Therefore, guess away!

5) How much do I love writing? The SAT starts the test off with a bang, or an essay to be more precise. The 25 minute section is required and is scored out of 12 points. The essay is read by two readers, each of whom grade out of 6 points. Technically, the ACT essay section is optional. It comes at the end of the exam and is 30 minutes long. However, most colleges do like to see the essay section in order to accept the ACT score.

It is all easier said then done. In order to really find out which test is the right one, the best decision is to take both the tests. While it may seem like unnecessary work, it is important to find out which test works better for you personally, rather than what Mom or Grandma or the neighbor thinks. No one can know which test you will do better on until you take both exams.

Call one of Victory Step's consultants today. We will be more than happy to guide you to your right path!

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