SAT versus ACT


What is the ACT?

The ACT is a test that is accepted by most colleges and universities in the United States that is used as an admissions and placement test.

Origin of the ACT

In the summer of 1959, the American College Testing (ACT) Program was founded by Ted McCarrel and University of Iowa education professor E. F. Lindquist. Lindquist suggests that there is a need for a new regional or national test for college-bound high school students. They determined that the current SAT test was designed primarily as an aptitude test used for admissions by certain colleges in the northeastern US, whereas the ACT would be an achievement test that would more accurately measure a student’s academic preparedness and would be used for college placement as well as admissions. In 2007 the ACT finally became accepted as an admissions test by all US 4 yr. colleges and universities.

The basic structure of the ACT is that it has four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science, with an optional Essay.

In 2012 the ACT was taken by nearly 52% of all graduating students and is becoming the more popular of the college admissions tests. Furthermore, the ACT is now an active partner with the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These standards are based on empirical data and reflect the shared goal of preparing students for readiness in credit-bearing college courses and in careers.

What is the SAT?

The SAT is also an admissions test that has been used to determine admission to universities and collages as well as scholarships since 1926. Over the years, the SAT has gone through many changes in format with the newest major change occurring in March of 2016.

What is the New 2016 SAT like?

The basic structure of the New 2016 SAT: Reading, Writing and Language, Math – No Calculator, Math – Calculator, with an optional Essay.

The new 2016 SAT seems to be an amalgamation of the old SAT and the current ACT. Some of the changes are obvious: The new SAT has given up the “guessing penalty”, has made the essay – “Writing Section” – optional, and has 4 sections rather than 10. The first section is the Reading Test which demands that a student read five passages of various styles and subjects and answer 52 questions in 65 minutes. While this seems difficult enough, the real challenge is that they have taken all of the most difficult question types and made them standard for this form of the test as well as added a few new types. Furthermore, rather than having a separate “science section” to test, they have incorporated the science sections into the “Reading” and “Writing and Language’ sections. Speaking of the Writing and Language section, it is very much like the ACT now with the exception of time. The ACT has a student answer 75 questions in 45 minutes, whereas the new SAT has students answering 44 questions in 35 minutes. In other words, on the new 2016 SAT a student will have twice as much time to answer each question. The added difficulty on the new 2016 SAT comes when students must interpret information from charts, graphs or maps to answer questions. As for the Math sections, there are two, one section requires the use of a calculator while the other does not. Section 3, “Math Test – No Calculator” requires a student to answer 20 questions in 25 minutes without the use of a calculator: four questions of which are the old “grid-ins” that are not multiple guess. Section 4, “Math Test – Calculator” requires students to answer 38 questions in 55 minutes and allows the use of a calculator. The last eight questions in this section are “grid-ins”as well.

Why such a dramatic change? Some experts say that change this will make the SAT more competitive with the ACT, while others claim that the change will make the SAT more of a true indicator of a students academic abilities. Regardless of the reason, the important thing to know is that the test is still beatable!

What is the Difference?

There is no real difference between these two tests except in basic structure and question types. They are both used to determine college admissions and whether or not a student receives a scholarship. Both have their own rules and design of standardized tests in general. Both are designed to confuse and mislead students into picking wrong choices and losing points using time constrictions. And . . . both are a major cause of student anxiety every year.

Which One Should I Take?

After maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher, many students still have difficulty earning a score of over 27 on the ACT and so are limited in their scholarship potential and the number of colleges or universities they can apply to. On the other hand, the SAT is very confusing to many students and they have difficulty scoring over 1,600 on that test which puts them in the same dilemma.

So, which test should you take?

The easy and most common response is, “Take both!”

However, here at PGILA, we know that it isn’t necessary to take both because each university has the conversion chart for these tests. That’s right; one has the same weight as the other in terms of admissions.

All in all, some students are better at taking one over the other.

We recommend you come and take both SAT and ACT evaluation tests to determine which you should concentrate on.

Think about it. Like it or not these tests are required for admissions. Although the ACT is easier for some, the SAT is still the test looked at most to determine scholarships, so we recommend you take it as well.

With that in mind, we have designed our programs to enable our students to achieve scores high enough to receive scholarships and grants from the top colleges and universities when taking either test.

At PGILA, we focus on enabling our students to qualify for scholarships by significantly raising their ACT and SAT scores. Moreover, our students also develop and master the study skills needed to do well in college as well as learn the life skills needed to maintain a successful career beyond their college years.

The PGILA Difference

The PraxisGroup Difference is that, although we do address content and instruct students in EXACTLY what they will be tested on the ACT and SAT so that they study only what they need to earn a high score, moreover, we concentrate on instructing our students about the structure, the following of ACT and SAT directions, identifying and understanding the question types, and following the rules the test is based on to eliminate wrong choices.

Using differentiated instruction, we use “guided practice” to describe and demonstrate how the methods and procedures must be applied to each problem type to work effectively and consistently. Then, using “independent practice”, students test individually to determine how well they understand the methods and procedures. We return to guided practice when scoring tests and going over the questions types our students are having difficulty with and determine what procedures they have skipped or did not understand, make the necessary corrections and then return to independent practice.

We instruct and practice until our students can raise their scores by an average of 100 – 500 points on the SAT, and 3 – 5 points on each section of the ACT consistently. Of course, the more they practice the better they do.

Keep in mind that the reason no one has ever successfully challenged the makers of the SAT is that the test is based on very specific structures and rules. Knowing these structures and rules enables our students to earn high SAT scores and scholarships!

*SAT is a registered trademark of College Board with whom PGILA has no affiliation.*

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