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Insider’s Tip: SAT VS. ACT

One of the biggest challenges students face during their college application process is standardized testing. The SAT and ACT are the two standardized test options that colleges require, each with different characteristics.

One observation is that the SATs tend to have less straightforward, but possibly objectively easier questions and the ACT accommodates the opposite. One example is:

“SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?

ACT:   In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?”

Hence, many students have suggested that understanding the content of the questions is in itself a challenge on the SAT. The SAT places high emphasis on vocabulary, both in the critical reading and writing sections. Typically, in the SATs, the questions get increasingly difficult towards the end of the section. In contrast, the ACT scatters difficult questions across the section.

The ACT is known to be more of a ‘big picture’ exam. If a student is more geared towards breaks and easily gets distracted, the SAT might be the way to go because time management in the ACT is vital. The math sections on the ACT are also known to be more rigorous and advanced. Lastly, there is the science part- do not fear. The science is geared more towards deciphering graphs, charts and a basic level of the topic. In conclusion, the ACT is a test based on knowledge acquired in school.

Urban Myth Buster: Colleges do not prefer one over the other at all. “Both tests predict college performance equally well,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of admissions and financial aid. It is based mainly on a student’s strengths, weakness, preferences and test taking strategy, but if still in doubt- taking both might be a helpful option.

Article by the MoCo Student Staff Writer Shylee Yachin of Richard Montgomery High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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