SAT or ACT and other FAQs

Ivy Experience answers your SAT & ACT questions!

Should I take the SAT or ACT?

Many students have heard that the SAT or ACT is a “better” or “easier” test. But it is not a question of which is better. The truth is, it varies by student.

Due to changes in the new SAT format, the SAT and ACT are more similar than ever. Still, we find that students usually perform much better on one test than the other. The only way to determine which test to take is to do a full practice SAT and a full practice ACT and compare your scores.

If you do not have time to take two whole tests, ask us for a free condensed diagnostic test to determine whether you should take the new SAT or ACT!

Is the SAT or ACT more important for college admissions?

All colleges view the SAT and ACT equally. Neither test is seen as more prestigious or important by admissions officers. You should take the ACT if you score higher on the ACT, and the SAT if you score higher on the SAT.

Again, you can compare your scores SAT and ACT scores here.

Should I take both the SAT and the ACT?

Again, it varies. There is no harm in taking a second test. If you do poorly on the second test, colleges never need to know you took it. If you do better on the second test, then colleges never have to know you took the first.

But there are questions you have to ask yourself: am I already in the score range for my target schools? Do I want the extra stress? Was my diagnostic score on the second test much lower than my score on the first?

As often in this process, there is no one-answer-fits-all approach.

Should I take the ACT with Writing or the SAT with Essay?

YES! Especially if you do not know where to apply yet. Some schools require the ACT with Writing or the SAT Essay. Not taking them on a specific test date can invalidate that whole score to the schools that require it. It is worth it to put the extra 40 to 50 minutes in to ensure your whole morning was not wasted.

You can skip out on the ACT with Writing or SAT with Essay ONLY IF you already know exactly what schools you are applying to, and you know that they explicitly do not require the ACT with Writing and SAT Essay.

What do SAT and ACT scores mean?

The SAT was originally an aptitude test designed to showcase a student’s potential. The ACT was originally a knowledge-based achievement test designed to show how much a student learned in high school.

Neither of these is exactly true anymore. Nowadays, the ACT and SAT are used by colleges to predict how well a student will do in college, and to compare students from different schools all over the country.

Still, colleges admit that the SAT and ACT are not the best way to predict student success – in fact, they all admit that high school GPA is by far the most important predictor of college success.

Do I have to take the SAT or ACT?

Students who want to go to college do not necessarily need to take the SAT or ACT anymore. Some schools are now “test optional” or “test flexible” and do not require standardized test scores from students.

If you believe that SAT or ACT scores would damage your application, consider investigating test optional and test flexible schools.

What does it mean when schools “superscore” the SAT or ACT?

Superscoring is when schools combine a student’s best subscores from multiple test dates to create a new total score.

So for example, if a student took the SAT twice and scored as follows:

January: 600 verbal, 650 math, 1250 total

May: 650 verbal, 630 math, 1280 total

Schools that superscore would see a 1300 (650 verbal, 650 math).

Click here for a list of schools that superscore the ACT.

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