What’s the difference between the SAT and the ACT?

Classroom test
The big test is coming for students…but which one will they choose?

As high schoolers across the land sharpen their pencils for the SAT or ACT, they still need to buckle down for one of the two college entrance exams. According to the Fair and Open Testing, the number of ACT takers have surpassed the number of SAT takers but most schools still require one of the test scores as a main criteria for college admissions.

Colin Gruenwald, Kaplan Test Prep’s director of SAT and ACT programs, explains, “Students have the opportunity to deliver the score that best represents them. At this point every university in the U.S. requests or accepts the SAT also requests or accepts the ACT. Some students do better on one test on the other.”

His advice to test takers? “Sit down, take your sample tests and figure out which one is definitely the best option for you.” Whether it’s through your library, guidance counselor’s office or taking free sample tests through Kaplan, do the prep work. “Then focus your attention on that test, take that test and submit that score.”

Kelly Montrym agrees. The associate director in the office of undergraduate admission at Boston College doesn’t have a preference with one test over the other when evaluating prospective students. She points out, “We’ll use whichever score is stronger for the student.”

In fact, she explains although students may feel like test scores reflect their intelligence, admissions professionals evaluate scores as overall readiness. “We view it as how prepared you are for college….That’s really what the test scores are used for in the review.”

Some may disagree. Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTEST: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, explains, “No doubt that a kid who scores a 1400 is going to be more ready than a kid who scores a 600 but the point is there’s better data predicts and that is the high school record. Researchers, include those for the testing companies, attest that high school grades – despite the differences of high schools – are a better measurement of high school.”

Many schools have adopted this mindset; 850 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions have dropped the ACT/SAT admissions exam requirement. “From our perspective, neither test is necessary to do effective college admissions. Both tests are inferior to high school grades.”

As for the future of the tests, Schaeffer adds, “I don’t think either test is going to go away completely.”

Montrym, the president of the New England Association for College Admission Counseling, seconds that notion. “If I was a betting woman, I would say the tests are here to stay….I mean way, way down the road, who knows.”

Comparing and contrasting the tests:

ACT SAT
Five sections: English, math, reading, science and a 30-minute optional writing test. Three sections: Critical reading, math and a 25-minute required writing test.
The maximum score for each section is 36. The maximum score for each section is 800.
Content areas tested in each section. Content areas break down into 10 sections.
Optional writing test is at the end. Required writing test  is at the beginning.
Testing time is 3 hours and 25 minutes (45 minutes each section). Testing time is 3 hours and 45 minutes (sections range from 10 – 25 minutes depending on the section).
No experimental section. Experimental section.
No wrong answer penalty. Wrong answer penalty.
Questions have consistent level of difficulty. Questions get more difficult as test progresses.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Arts

EXCLUSIVE: Backstage with Adam Jacobs at 'Aladdin' on…

Metro shadowed Adam Jacobs backstage at "Aladdin" on Broadway.

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…