According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey of SAT takers, 39% who opted to take the SAT instead of the ACT did so because they believe it is the more widely accepted of the two tests — a false, but broadly held perception. Other reasons cited for taking the SAT instead of the ACT: most friends and classmates are taking the test (15%), belief that there is an admissions advantage to submitting an SAT score instead of an ACT score (11%), and parental advice (9%). “In reality, colleges in the U.S. accept both tests equally, and there is no admissions advantage to submitting scores from one test versus the other,” said Christine Brown, Executive Director of K-12 and College Prep Programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “If you’re planning to take only one of the two tests, the smart strategy is to take practice tests for the SAT and the ACT, see which one you perform better on, and go with that test.” To help students determine which test works best for them, Kaplan Test Prep will holds its free National Practice Day on Saturday, November 16 at locations around the country as well as live, online. Students who attend the event on site will take a combo SAT and ACT test, featuring realistic practice questions, that will help familiarize them with the content. Students who attend an online event will take shortened, predictive versions of both exams. In addition to the free practice, each participant will receive a personalized detailed performance analysis. This will give students an idea of which one they should prep for and take — though many students ultimately decide to sit for both exams. Additionally, Kaplan experts will provide attendees with an overview of the exams and their important roles in the admissions process. The event is aimed at helping students determine their test-taking strengths and weaknesses in a simulated testing environment, enabling them to know where to focus on improvement before the Test Day. Practice also helps students become accustomed to each test’s content and format, which improves confidence and in turn, performance.
Differences between the exams include:
- Length: The SAT is 3 hours, 45 minutes; the ACT is 3 hours and 25 minutes (including the optional Writing section, which Kaplan encourages students to take.)
- Sections: The SAT includes a Critical Reading, Math and Writing section; the ACT includes an English, Reading, Math and Science section.
- Scoring: The SAT is scored on a 600-2400 scale; the ACT is scored on a 1-36 scale. On the SAT, ¼ point is subtracted from your raw score for each wrong answer (except for Math Grid-Ins); on the ACT, there is no penalty for wrong answers.