choosing ACT or SAT

Posted by: Wren

choosing ACT or SAT - 05/01/20 11:44 AM

I did 3 advanced searches trying to find material on this since I assume it has been discussed but I couldn't find the threads.

What have been kids' experience in choosing ACT vs SAT and applying to schools? Looking, it seems either is acceptable. What is the big difference? What do kids generally prefer to take. How different is the prep?
Posted by: Kai

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/04/20 07:01 AM

When the SAT was redesigned in 2016, it became much more like the ACT. It used to be that the SAT was more puzzle-like than the ACT, but it's not that way at all anymore.

Probably the biggest difference is that the SAT has more time per item than the ACT. Other differences are that the math section on the ACT goes to a higher level than on the SAT and that the ACT also has a "science" section, which is basically reading comprehension with graphs and tables. I put "science" in quotes because if you are using what you know about science to answer the questions, you're probably going to get them wrong.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/05/20 07:23 PM

Iím curious - can you give an example of how using science knowledge would lead to getting the ACT question(s) wrong? Is it poor design of the ACT test or poor teaching of science? The SAT supposedly doesnít even include a specific science section. As an overseas observer, it seems extraordinary that high school students who are strong at science would not benefit from their scientific skills in either of the two major US college entrance exams.
Posted by: Wren

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/06/20 04:24 AM

I read that also. That is is more statistical tables and logic rather specific science knowlege. They are not going to ask "which one of these is not a phylum" I also read the math was harder on the SAT, thinking that the math score on the SAT would be more relavent if you are applying to a program that requires math. But I have not seen anything about that.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/06/20 06:29 AM

I think with the new SAT bing very similar to the ACT, it probably comes down to personal preference. My kids found them to be pretty similar, other than the different sections as noted. The science stuff they described as intuitive, mainly interpretation of graphs and figures, rather than knowledge.

We were advised to have kids try a practice of each to see if one or the other played more to their individual strengths. My stubborn kids refused to do any prep or practice, so ended up just sitting for both- the scores were essentially equivalent between tests for both of them, though neither test is very helpful once you get to the upper ranges. For what itís worth, in my opinion, the math on both exams is at much too low a level to be relevant to any college math program- at the upper score ranges itís measuring speed and the ability to avoid mistakes. There are a few programs (I think in engineering) that require the SAT2 in math, though.
Posted by: Wren

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/06/20 07:12 AM

thanks cricket3. But if you need SAT2 in math, for STEM, for instance, then does it matter if you have ACT or SAT with it? Is it more strategic or it makes no difference to have ACT or SAT with the additional SAT subject tests?

BTW, is anyone doing the SAT/ACT during isolation? Did they change it? DD is going into 11th grade, so taking PSAT in Oct for NM and then planning to take SAT Jan timeframe. Wondering if we are still in social distancing and how that affects the test.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/06/20 09:15 AM

Yes, most places want one of the general tests as well, not instead of. But honestly, there were only a few places we looked at that asked specifically for SAT2 in math, many more places just asked for a couple SAT subject tests, and many times that was ďoptionalĒ but we read it as send them if theyíre good scores.

Though honestly, many, many places have changed to test optional, especially now with the pandemic, so this all might be outdated advice anyway. I think the days of emphasis on the tests are in the past- my kidsí feeling was that a very low score would hurt, but otherwise a good score didnít add much, as many kids can achieve that. One huge exception is scholarship-related stuff- that is totally different, and we donít have much experience there.
Posted by: Wren

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/06/20 10:02 AM

I wonder if EA is going to look at test scores more closely since all the year end grades are somewhat a mess. AP exams are so modiied. DD's Chinese is 45 minutes instead of 3 hours and open book. Her AP CS is a project, no exam. If we go back to online schooling with a second covid wave in the fall. Standardized tests might be a bigger factor for class of 2025.
Posted by: mecreature

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/07/20 11:18 AM

ds junior has done both in the past and he says not much difference. Science is a subject on ACT but shouldn't stump anyone. He took the SAT last November and is scheduled for ACT in June. They haven't cancelled yet and are still promoting pretty hard. He already has 2 SAT subject exams but was wanting another one or two.
Posted by: Kai

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/07/20 12:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
Iím curious - can you give an example of how using science knowledge would lead to getting the ACT question(s) wrong? Is it poor design of the ACT test or poor teaching of science?


Neither. It's that the test is testing the ability to pull the relevant information from the information given.

As far as examples go, occasionally an answer choice will consist of a related fact that is true but doesn't answer the question.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: choosing ACT or SAT - 05/07/20 02:22 PM

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I see now that the SAT subject tests are designed to properly assess knowledge and skills in each subject. I found the guide & practice tests very interesting (https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests).