ACT or SAT... which one to take?

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: July 2003 Archive: ACT or SAT... which one to take?
By Chamonix (Chamonix) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 04:19 pm: Edit

I am a rising junior and wondering which test I should take. I live in New England and have always thought that I would take the SAT I and II's.

Last fall of sophmore year I took the PSAT's, I did not do well, getting a 69M, 49V, 49W.

So this summer I decided to do a lot of prep work. I bought a PSAT book, ten real SAT's, and SAT 1600. I read through the PSAT book and then took the two practice tests. Once again I did not do well. I got a 43 on the verbal both times, but on the writing i got upper 600's, and on the math I got upper 700's.

So to sum my point up, I did a lot of studying and my verbal score did not improve. I was never an english genous, math was always my forte, but I did get an A in english freshman year and a B sophmore year at the honors level.

Then I read how you could take the ACT as many times as you want and not show colleges all your scores or even your high school. So I thought maybe I should just go out in October and wing it and see how I do on the ACT. Not a bad idea, I thought. What's the worst that could happen? nothing, really, except doing poorly.

So I wrote to the ACT and they sent me there free stuff which included a couple practice tests, this years version and I found last years version lying around at my house. Well, I took the practice test, and to my surprise I did very well. I finished each section in time and got a composite of 29, with the subdivisions of: 27W, 28R, 29S, 32M.

A composite of 29 (95th percentile) will make me competitive with all the elite schools, and my score will only go up from here with practice. I'm definitally hoping I'll get in the thirtys on my next practice test. I think the reason I did well was because of the way the test is set up, no sentence completion or analogies and the reading comprehension section is easier.

So here's my question, do I ever have to take the SAT's?

I have already taken the chemistry SAT II, I got a 730, but I probably won't have to take anymore then, unless I won't to go to MIT, I know, a mega reach school.

Is there anyone out there who has done the same thing I'm doing? Am I doing the right thing?

By Justplayin104 (Justplayin104) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 05:05 pm: Edit

I didn't completely read what you wrote, but I saw you got a 29 practice. That's good, and you can get 30+ with studying. I'm considering taking it again and actually working with it this time.

My answer: Take whichever you are best at. I have a 1340 SAT which i'm retaking, and a 28 ACT which I've taken twice. I'm not good with the ACT. I've seen people get 1350's and make 31's. I've also seen people get 1240's and get the same 28 I got. I'm stronger on the SAT, so I'm going to retake that and am aiming for 1400+ with some studying.

In your position, I'd say you're ACT is stronger. Study for that.

By Drusba (Drusba) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 05:27 pm: Edit

First, do not rely on what you did in sophomore year. I assume you are taking PSAT this fall as a junior. Do so, it has no impact on admissions. Then, even if you don't do that well on it, don't translate that into poor performance on SAT. Best time for best results on SAT is toward end of junior year and fall of senior -- you simply know more by then. Moreover, don't even rely on what you might do on practice tests as actual test scores often vary widely from those.

Next, by all means take the ACT if you want. Best time for it is also late junior year or early senior for same reason as mentioned above -- also, more than the SAT, it tests things you may actually learn in course work in high school. If you score high on ACT you can use it for admissions and possibly only submit it. Nevertheless, even if you submit a bad score on an SAT and a good one on ACT to a college, it will most often use only that score it believes is the higher for admissions (the ACT in that case) so there is not much of a downside. It is true that you can withhold ACT scores and send only the one you want, but be aware there are schools that actually ask on their applications for you to tell them when and how many times you took SAT and ACT and what your scores were. Also, your high school will get the score and some high schools list all your test scores on transcripts.

As to taking SAT II's. There are some schools that require them including ivies (although a few of those allow you to substitute the ACT for both the SAT and SAT II's) and when required, it is very often three tests. Thus, before determining whether you need more SAT II's, you need to know and check with the schools to which you actually intend to apply.

By Chamonix (Chamonix) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 05:52 pm: Edit

Well thanks a lot for your advice. I am visiting a lot of colleges this summer, and so far every school but one said you can submit the ACT instead of both the SAT I and II. I guess the ACT plays to my advantage.

And to anyone else out there if your having trouble with the SAT, but do well in school, try the ACT

By Emma (Emma) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 07:31 pm: Edit

I'm from London and have just decided to apply to American colleges and have just about decided to take the ACT and skip all the SAT nonsense...
Which mean i've suddenly got to learn lots of things for the next test to apply at the end of December...
I hope i'm making the right choice but no time to do both, and i think i'm like you with my strengths and weaknesses.

For you though since you have ample time, I would suggest taking the SATs just for the sake of it (no harm, you never know, you could do better than you expect); and also, more importantly, some colleges say that you have to have the SAT1/ACT AND 3 SAT IIs (eg Harvard). So before you decide to write off the SATs like me, check very carefully with all the colleges websites what they require. (I'm just waving goodbye to Harvard, Princeton and Columbia which require them because i do not have time to learn 3 SAT II syllabuses as i don't even know what is on them!)

Hope that helped!

By Clickspring (Clickspring) on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 10:10 pm: Edit

Take the ACT. It's a better test and if you do better on it than the SAT, then it's a better test for you to take.

However, all that crap about schools and colleges not being able to see your scores is false. Your high school gets the result of any standardized test you take. If you send a grade report to a college, the testing agency will release your entire test history, but don't fret, colleges only consider your highest scores in the admissions process.

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