Myth: You Should Take Both the ACT and SAT

Flickr user Rennett Stowe

Some people believe the key to increasing their acceptance odds is by taking both the ACT and SAT. Let’s take a look at why that is, and why it’s not true.

East and West Coast Schools Prefer the SAT, the Midwest Prefers the ACT

Right off the bat—Colleges don’t prefer one test over the other. Students applying to East coast schools will not get special kudos for taking the SAT. It doesn’t matter which test you take (in terms of school preferences).

True, students on the Coasts tend to take the SAT more often than the ACT, but it’s mainly a matter of where the tests originated than anything else. The ACT was created in Iowa, and so Midwestern states tend to take that more frequently than the SAT.

Elite Colleges Prefer the SAT

Again, colleges don’t prefer one test over the other. Including elite schools like the Ivy Leagues. Since the Ivies are primarily located on the East Coast, the SAT just so happens to be more common.

Taking Both Shows Academic Achievement

The ACT and SAT are two very different tests, covering different subject matter, and presenting information in different ways. Students tend to be suited best for one or the other. Generally speaking, analytical students who enjoy science and mathematics prefer the ACT—which is more straightforward, and focused on interpreting data or charts. Students who are more inclined towards English or History might prefer the SAT—as it’s more focused on critical thinking and vocabulary. Again, this is generally speaking.

Since the tests are different, it’s a smarter strategy to become familiar with one and prepare well for it. Focusing on one will increase your odds of a higher score, save time and money, and decrease your stress levels.

Which Should I Take?

Instead of taking both the ACT and SAT, try taking both the PSAT and PreACT. These tests can give you a taste for what the ACT and SAT will be like in the future. Otherwise, simply do your research. Look up practice tests for the ACT and SAT and try a few. Which suits you better? Which makes more sense?

To see how your ACT / SAT score affects your acceptance odds, check out College Raptor’s free match tool!

Allison Wignall

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