New SAT vs ACT (or Why You Should Take the ACT Instead)
With the introduction of the new SAT in March, students and parents across the world are wondering how to prepare for the new exam. After all, standardized tests scores are absolutely critical for college admissions – indeed, academics comprise at least 45% of the decision whether to admit an applicant or not.
The new 1600 SAT change is something that every current sophomore or junior should be thinking about, because the last 2400 SAT was offered in February. This new change introduces much more uncertainty — what type of curve will there be? Will this new exam be harder than the old one? How should students prepare differently? — and more uncertainty in the already-uncertain college application process can only result in more stress.
For students who are serious about their college admissions decision, CollegeVine recommends taking the ACT instead of the new SAT. There are a few main reasons for this:
- Not enough practice materials for new SAT. Currently, there are only 4 officially released exams put out by the College Board for the new SAT. Meanwhile, the ACT has been around in its current form for a very long time – CollegeVine has 20 official exams. When studying for standardized exams like these, it is VERY important to only use official tests because you need to know the exact difficulty that you will be dealing with. Some made-up tests are too easy or too difficult – both are wastes of time. If you want to be able to increase your score reliably through training and practice, taking the ACT is the only way to do so.
- The new SAT is still undergoing revisions. During the first few exam administrations, the College Board will be continuously changing the exam by editing the types of questions, changing the number of questions, etc. When something as important as your standardized test score is on the line, you don’t want to walk into any surprises on test day. With the new SAT, you’re never going to be 100% sure that the test you officially take will look like what you practiced. On the other hand, with the ACT, you know exactly what to expect.
- Colleges aren’t sure yet how to interpret the new SAT scores. Even though the scores on the new 1600 scale are mapped to percentiles, colleges still don’t really have data on how scores on the new SAT will correlate to important college success indicators (like GPA in college, future earnings, etc.). The ACT, however, has accumulated years’ worth of useful and reliable data. Thus, once again, there is a certain amount of volatility associated with the new SAT in the college admissions process.
- Contrary to popular belief, every 4-year college in the US accepts the ACT. In fact, in 2011 the number of ACT takers exceeded the number of SAT takers.
In summary, for students taking a more serious approach to their college applications, the ACT is a smarter choice than the new SAT because it is less volatile, has years’ worth of material to study and prepare from, and it is currently better received by colleges.