The SAT and ACT tests determine a student's readiness to enter college. Getting into the best colleges requires students to score well on these entrance tests. Although most colleges accept either test, students often don't know which one to take. There are some fundamental differences between the tests.
The SAT test was created in the 1920's as an entrance exam for students who wished to attend Ivy League colleges on the east coast. The test is designed to measure a student's skills and abilities. The SATs are based on IQ tests and aim to test a student's ability rather than the number of facts that they have learned. The SAT allows 3 hours and 45 minutes to answer its 140 questions. A perfect score is 1600. Guessing is discouraged by subtracting marks for incorrect answers. There will be slight changes to the SAT test in 2016, one being that students will no longer be penalized for incorrect answers. To find more information about the changes as the new test is released in the Spring of 2016, check out our page specifically devoted to the SAT.
The ACT test was designed in the 1950s to service colleges on the west coast. Here, students are tested on how much they have learned in high school. The test covers math, English, reading, writing and science. The test allows 3 hours and 25 minutes for the student to answer the 215 questions. A perfect score is 36. No marks are subtracted for incorrect answers, so students can take a guess at questions they are not sure about.
Each of the tests cost about $50 and takes a half day to complete. If you can afford the fee and the time, it's best to take both. You can take the test over, so test early on in case you would like to improve your score before applying to college.
Experts differ on which test is best; the ACT is rumored to be easier, but the SAT does test your preparedness for college. If you only want to take one test, take a sample test of the SAT and the ACT to see which one you score best on. Sample tests are available on through Test Prep BootCamp and can help you determine which testing style is best suited to your abilities. You can find free SAT sample test on the website here. You can find sample ACT tests on their website here.
All your test scores are recorded, no matter how many times you take the test, and are available for your college admissions department to see. This means that getting the best possible test scores the first time is ideal. Before you attempt your college entrance exam, consider getting a tutor who specializes in the entrance exam to help you with test preparation. A tutor can guide you through the process of preparing for the test and administer sample tests. You can then work with your tutor to iron out difficulties you may be having before attempting your official entrance exam.