Part 2: Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

You may be asking yourself “Should I take the SAT or the ACT?” The answer used to depend on where you lived. Up until recent years, the SAT and ACT each dominated geographical regions: the SAT was prominent in the West and East Coasts, while colleges in the Midwest preferred the ACT.  Now, the majority of colleges in the United States will accept either.  The SAT is a reasoning-based exam testing critical thinking and problem solving skills.  The ACT test is a knowledge-based exam testing the core-curriculum taught throughout high school.  The SAT and ACT reward different attributes, making your performance in each test based on what type of test taker you are.  When deciding which test to take, there are two main issues to consider: which test does the schools you are applying to prefer and which test do you believe you will excel at the most? 

The SAT may be better for you if:

  1. You excel at taking tests.
  2. You did great on the PSAT.
  3. You are great with grammar.
  4. You are great at writing essays that use illustrative examples rather than argument.
  5. You consider yourself quick thinking.
  6. You are high energy or impulsive.

The ACT may be better for you if:

  1. You are an exceptionally studious student.
  2. Your reading skills are stronger than your vocabulary.
  3. You are great at writing papers but lack grammar skills.
  4. You prefer to write argumentative essays, persuading with ideas rather than facts and figures.
  5. You don’t do well under pressure.
  6. You are more academic than “test savvy.”
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