This question is among the most frequent questions we receive from parents. In short, the answer is complex and informed by your child’s strengths and overall test preference. In addition, their individual learning and test-taking style needs to be taken into account.
Because this answer is highly individualized, it is best determined once we have the opportunity to speak with them directly. Upon completion of a Student Assessment and Practice Test or Practice Assignments, we certainly know enough to make a recommendation. That said, when deciding between the SAT and the ACT, it is good to know how the SAT and ACT tests differ, and what type of student is inclined to each. In our experience, we find that all students are better, and more naturally, suited to ONE of the two tests.
Which Test Is Best to Take?
- SAT Only – Students who are advised to focus solely on the SAT typically prefer literature and writing to math and science. They have very strong vocabularies and do a lot of reading on their own time.
- ACT Only – Students who perform better on the ACT are typically more math and science-oriented. Students without an extensive background in English and literature often do better on these sections on the ACT. There is a misconception that this test is easier than the SAT. This test is certainly perceived as much easier by students who have the right skill set for it. However, the ACT is much more time-intensive than the SAT and covers a broader range of math and science than the SAT does.
What About Taking Both SAT & ACT Tests?
We frequently find that a student has a much greater potential to get a high score on one test than the other. There are also students who have a similar aptitude for both tests. While this may be the case, virtually all students have a preference for one test or the other. If a student looks like they will perform comparably on the two tests, we suggest that the student focus on the one that they like better.
Note: In general, we would not advise a student to take both tests. It is a waste of valuable study time, and not at all optimal for students aiming for a top score. It might take some time for us to figure out whether the student has a good enough math background to do well on the SAT, or if they can handle the critical reading section of the SAT. However, we are happy to let students take an assessment test of each one if they are willing to invest that kind of time. That said, we look to get them through the assessment period as fast as possible so that they have time to focus on the test that is ultimately best for them.
Where Do I Start?
If you would like to better understand which test is best for your college-bound student, simply give us a call at 408-823-9999, or email us at your convenience.