November 24, 2017

ACT vs. SAT: The decision we all dread broken down

By Daniel O'Hanlon '17, Staff Writer

Going into junior year, students are confronted with the realities of the college process and the beginning of anxiety about an uncertain future. One of the biggest decisions of the entire college process is deciding which standardized tests to take; the more popular SAT, the up-and-coming ACT, or even both. Every person you talk to, whether it be parents, test-prep gurus, or older siblings, seem to have their own opinion on which test will create the best outcome.

As a current senior who mercifully made it through the college process between junior spring and this year, I can offer my personal insight into how testing went for me last year and what path I recommend future juniors embark on. At this time last year, I had already completed my lone ACT test, which I decided to take before April break after much deliberation.

I have two older brothers, each of whom took both the SAT and ACT, and they advised me during my own process. They unanimously agreed that the ACT contained easier questions than the SAT, but that more questions were packed into the same amount of time. In both of their experiences, they preferred rushing through the ACT versus getting stuck on especially tough SAT questions, so they advised me to simply take the ACT and leave the SAT be.

Thankfully I only had to take the test once in April of last year, but I have friends who have taken both tests two or three times each over the course of six months. While the decision is personal and different for how each student learns best, I would advise choosing the ACT if you are a person who can manage time well during test taking and move through questions fast. If you often have trouble finishing tests or prefer to spend more time on each question, SAT is the test for you.

On another note, if you are a student who might receive extended time on standardized testing, ACT is definitely the easier way to go. The only knock on ACT is the feeling of being rushed for time, but if you get double or even triple time during testing, then it gives you almost unlimited time to methodically work through easier questions, which will hopefully result in the least amount of stress possible.

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