We’ve discussed some of the pros and cons of taking both the ACT and SAT. Recent statistics show that many high school students—especially those applying to more exclusive schools—are taking both tests. But statistics cannot make a decision for you, especially when it is not necessary to take both standardized tests. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help figure things out.
Do I do better with one test format over the other?
This might seem a little strange. After all, how can you know without actually taking the tests? Thankfully, ACT and the College Board have provided practice tests and questions on their websites. This allows you to gather information about the format and which questions work better for you. Plus, they’re free!
Your high school might also have had you take the PSAT or PreACT either sophomore year or early junior year. These tests are designed to measure your skills like the real tests. They are less expensive to take than the ACT and SAT (the PreACT is $12, and the PSAT is $15. The PreACT is only available to sophomores), and can be a good indication of whether to take the ACT or the SAT.
Do I have the time and resources to take both?
Prepping for these tests is not easy. It takes time to study for them, and between study materials and the testing costs, things can get a little pricey. Materials cross over, it’s true. However, the fact remains that these are two different tests. To do well on both, you will have to commit to good study habits. The good thing is that there are multiple testing dates available for each, so you don’t have to study for them at the same time on top of your regular school activities and social life.
Can I handle the stress?
A little stress is healthy. It keeps your mind alert, and you perform better when under stress. Each person’s threshold for too much stress is different. Knowing your own threshold is critical because too much stress will impair your performance. For some people, taking both tests lies across that threshold and can result in poor scores. Having good coping mechanisms is also crucial: Do you have an activity that de-stresses you? Do you take regular study breaks when your brain needs them? Do you have good social support?
Do I want to take both?
The mentality you bring to these tests affects how you perform on them. If you don’t care, then you have little incentive to do well. It doesn’t matter if you are outwardly blasé toward them: It’s all about what you actually believe in your gut. Chat with your parents, your teachers, or your guidance counselor about benefits of taking both. Do a little research, and make an informed decision based on what you need to do.
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