Preference of the ACT or SAT by State (Infographic)

The ACT and the SAT are the two largest college entrance exams in the country. Certain ACT / SAT scores can qualify students for scholarships and grants. Most colleges require students to submit their scores of one or the other in order to apply. There are a ton of interesting statistics about the entrance exam–did you know that more students take the ACT vs SAT, or that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than get a 1 on the ACT? Did you know that, on average, Harvard students are ranked in the 99th percentile for both tests? Or, that there’s a different standardized testing preference on a state by state basis?

Colleges don’t prefer one over the other

Students take the ACT more commonly, but colleges don’t really prefer one over the other. Really, they don’t. One myth that persists is that elite colleges–like the Ivy Leagues on the East Coast–favor the SAT. However, studies show that more East Coast students report SAT scores because more students take the SAT than the ACT in that region. It’s not because the SAT is superior.

But US states do

In fact, different regions of the United States report varying levels of state preference on the tests. Universities and colleges report to the government about the percentage of students who applied with either ACT or SAT scores. So we took a look at the stats.

By examining the percentage of ACT-reported scores per state, we can see the more commonly taken test within that state (though it is important to note that just because a student reported an ACT score, doesn’t mean that they did not also take the SAT).

Some states are heavily ACT oriented–95% in Wisconsin–and others much prefer the SAT–only 10% of students reported taking the ACT there. Other states are pretty much split down the middle.


Take a look at the infographic below to see what the standardized testing preferences are on a state by state basis.

State preference for ACT or SAT varies.

Have you received your ACT or SAT scores yet? If so, use them on College Raptor to see how they affect your admission odds at the schools you’re applying to!


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