What are the SAT and ACT tests?
The SAT and ACT tests are standardized tests that most high schools students take their junior or first part of their senior year.
The SAT test is two parts. The first part tests Math Skills ranging from number skills to probability. The second part is the Verbal score (now called Critical Reading), which tests grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension, written essay. Subjects are scored on a scale of 200 to 800. A perfect score is 1600. The average score is 1000.
The ACT test has four scores that are averaged for the students cumulative score. The four scores are based on the student’s performance in science reasoning, math, reading comprehension, and English/grammar skills. There is an optional writing test that students can choose to take. The highest score a student can receive is 36. A good score is a cumulative score above 26.
Why are SAT and ACT scores important?
Universities use the score in part to determine whether or not a student receives a scholarship or even admittance to the school. Every school has a different criteria for example the score needed to get into Harvard is different than the score needed to get into most local universities or community colleges. Schools also often consider other items when making scholarship or admittance decisions. Items such as high school grade point average, essays the student might have written for admittance, recommendations of teachers, how well the student interviewed (if part of the process), and extracurricular activities are reviewed.
Why do schools use the SAT and ACT scores?
The SAT or ACT score a student receives is actually a good criteria to base how successful a student will be in college. The higher the score the greater chance the student will have of being successful. Of course other factors such as a students motivation do make a difference. The scores are also used to decide whether you should start in freshman level or upper-level courses.
Which test should you take?
Recently a change has been made and most schools accept both ACT and SAT scores. You will need to check with the university you want to attend to verify they accept the test you are planning to take. The tests are different so depending on your strengths you might receive a better score by taking one over the other. The ACT is a content-based test testing how much knowledge a student has gained. The SAT test focuses more on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You might just take both and see which gives you the better score.