Ah, the dreaded standardized tests! No one enjoys taking them, but they’re almost always necessary. The ACT and SAT are the two most popular testing options for college admission. Both assess college readiness, but scoring is vastly different. Is there really a difference — and which matters more?
What’s the Difference?
First of all, both the ACT and SAT are substantially different. The ACT is historically considered a placement test, while the SAT has a psychological component to assess aptitude and learning ability. Yet, the differences don’t stop there!
You’ll also find that the SAT gives you a little more time to complete each question. Still, it lacks a science section, which the ACT includes. The ACT also allows you to use a calculator to complete math-related questions, while a strict no-calculator section exists on the SAT by comparison. This difference may make the ACT seem ideal for people who struggle with mathematics, but unlike the SAT, it doesn’t offer a mathematical equations reference guide. The ACT also has an essay component, while the SAT plans to discontinue theirs.
There are many other differences, not the least of which is scoring, but which one really matters more? It turns out that some states require one test over the other, so it’s important to know which you’ll need to study for before you apply for college. You might even end up needing to take both tests if you’re sending out multiple applications to schools in a number of different states.
Which Do Employers Prefer?
Most employers aren’t taking a close look at whether you took the ACT or SAT. Yet, they may show interest in your scores. Whichever you choose, a higher score will look better to potential employers, so you should prioritize test preparation and study time if you want to impress hirers later on down the road.
More importantly, your ACT or SAT score can dictate college acceptance, dramatically changing the way future employers perceive your hireability and the trajectory of your career. No pressure there, right?
How to Get the Highest Possible Score
Regardless of which test you take, your ultimate goal is to achieve the highest possible score. Try out these tips to improve your odds.
Invest in a Study Guide
Invest in a decent study guide that covers each subject. The right tools can make all the difference, helping to narrow down what you’ll need to review in the weeks and months leading up to your exam. You can even purchase flashcards and other items to make studying easier.
Consider a Study Buddy
Please don’t feel like you have to go it alone! A study buddy or study group could help you review questions, figure out your weaknesses and prepare for the upcoming test. Friends can also help keep you accountable for your progress while encouraging you along the way.
Take Practice Tests
Good news! You can take practice tests to see how well you do long before you head into your exam room. In fact, you can take them before you even start to study, so you have a baseline to compare your progress along the way.
You may be tempted to skip this option. After all, who wants to spend 3 to 4 hours taking a test if they don’t have to? Well, YOU do — at least if you want to make sure to get the best possible score when it’s time to take the actual test.
When you’re trying to decide between the ACT and the SAT, pay careful attention to your end goal. What college do you want to attend? What career do you want to pursue? These questions will help direct you toward the test you should take.
Pay close attention to which exam you need, and then study like mad to get the best possible score so you can impress admissions officers and future employers with your amazing results. Give yourself as much time as possible to study. Then, go out there and achieve great things! You’ve got this.