What You Need To Know If You Want to Take Both the ACT and the SAT

Flickr user Chris Marshall

While you aren’t required to take the SAT and the ACT, some students want to take both. One reason may be to see how you score on each, but another is if one college you’re applying prefers the ACT over the SAT and another college is the opposite. However, there are some things you need to know before you take them both.

You Have to Be Prepared

Taking both the SAT and ACT can add another layer of stress onto your junior and senior years of high school. They have different formats and questions, so the practice exams and study techniques are different for each.

If you don’t think you can dedicate enough study time to both exams, it may be more beneficial for you to choose one test over the other. Stretching yourself thin could be detrimental to your scores on each of them.

Focus On Your Practice Results

It’s likely that you will preform better on one or the other when it comes to your ACT and SAT. You can get an early indicator of your results by taking the practice exams, which are an essential part of your preparation for the standardized tests.

During the practice test, you may find you score considerably higher on the ACT than on the SAT. This could be in the entire test or just on a particular subject. If you did great on the PreACT, but not as well as you had hoped on the PSAT for example, it will be more beneficial for you to put more of your study time into the ACT. You should still study for the SAT, but you will have a great idea of where your strengths lie early on.

You Can Submit Both

Colleges love information about their prospective students. The more information the merrier. This is also true for ACT and SAT results. While one exam is always enough and you never have to take both, colleges won’t complain if you send in both scores.

In fact, some of the top schools in the United States have over 25% of students who submitted results for the two exams. This includes Cal Tech, Stanford University, and MIT. Colleges and universities are more than happy to take a look at all your academic achievements.

However, if you scored high on one exam and low on the other, it may be in your best interest to submit only your highest score.

Retake Your Higher Score

Some students wish to retake the SAT or ACT after their first attempt. However, as the deadlines draw nearer, you may not have time to focus on retaking both. In this case, it’s highly recommended to focus on your strengths.

If you scored poorly on the ACT, but high on the SAT, it is more worth it to you to study for an even higher score on the SAT. If you tried to retake the ACT, it may be difficult as you would have to invest more study time into achieving a similar or higher score when compared to your SAT results.

Taking both the SAT and ACT definitely has its benefits to a student, but before you attempt it, you must determine whether you have the time and ability to study for both. Sitting for the two could prove harmful to your scores if you are not adequately prepared.

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Hilary Cairns

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