SAT or ACT?

by Andrew Gomperts

This article provides a brief comparison of the two main college admission tests.

Perhaps you've heard the ACT is easier ... the SAT is harder ... or that one test isn't as important .... The generalizations are endless. So how can you help your children decide which test to take?

Stan Zatkowski, an admissions counselor at Boston College, offers this advice: "Many schools do not have a preference. The SAT assesses a student's potential to learn by testing math and verbal skills, and the ACT shows what a student has already learned in a variety of subjects. Schools take a student's day-to-day performance into account as well as his or her exam scores. Since most schools have no preference between the two tests, I'd suggest that the student take whatever test he or she is comfortable with. Take a couple practice tests and decide which one is right for you."

Northwestern University admissions counselor Rebecca Dixon agrees, adding that "either test is completely acceptable. At Northwestern, 93% take the SAT, 57% take the ACT, and lots of students take both."

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