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College Admissions: 5 Reasons to Try the ACT

Monday, July 23, 2012

 

Fewer trick questions, less vocabulary to memorize, and maybe no need to take SAT II Subject Tests? The ACT may very well be your test of choice.

While the SAT still dominates standardized testing for college admissions, the ACT has gained significant ground in the last 10 years. Originally, the ACT was more popular with mid-west and west coast colleges, but today every 4 year college in the U.S. accepts the ACT, and it is very well respected. In fact, because it is based more on coursework and is a more straightforward test, some college administrators value it

more than the SAT. There are some significant differences, and the pace is VERY fast compared to the SAT, so f you are a slow processor, the ACT probably isn’t for you. Nevertheless, here are 5 reasons to consider giving it a try:

1. No Tricks

While the SAT is riddled with tricks and strategies to learn, the ACT is more direct in how they phrase questions. You won’t spend several minutes trying to figure out what they want on each question in the ACT—the intent is evident. Additionally, in the Math section of the ACT, the questions progress logically from easy to difficult. On the SAT, they are mixed up. So, you might get a moderately difficult question to start, then an easy one, and then a hard one that rattles your confidence and disrupts the flow of finishing that section.

2. Less Vocabulary

If words aren’t your thing, then the ACT is likely to be a better test for you. Vocabulary is not as big a part of the test. So if you have not been an avid reader growing up, you won’t have to spend hours trying to learn long lists of vocabulary in order to be successful on the ACT. You will need a robust vocabulary to score high on the SAT.

3. More Math

If you are a student who has completed Algebra 2 and you are doing well in Trigonometry, the ACT may be for you. The SAT contains only Algebra 1, Geometry and little bit of Algebra 2. However, the ACT contains an array of Algebra 2 concepts and a few questions on Trigonometry. Successful math students will likely reap the benefits of a higher score and more cumulative points with this section of the ACT.

4. Science Reasoning

The ACT has a science section, a subject which does not exist on the SAT I. Because it is “science reasoning”, students without a strong laboratory science background should not be deterred. They won’t ask you to recite formulas or theorems. Instead, you will be asked to read passages and answer questions. It’s a section that strikes fear into the hearts of non-science kids, but it shouldn’t. For those who read, comprehend and reason well—it can be a winning area to achieve a higher score.

5. Avoid SAT II Subject Tests

At all but a few “uber” competitive colleges in the U.S., the ACT will count for both the SAT I and the SAT II Subject Tests. This means fewer test dates, reduced study time and less stress for students!

It is important to note that the ACT does give students the option to take the test with or without writing. However, most reasonably competitive colleges in the U.S. require the writing section, so all students should elect to include that section on test day. To see a list of dates and locations where the ACT is given, go to www.act.org.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

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Comments:

Regarding your first point, everyone who knows anything about the SAT knows that the math section questions are absolutely arranged in order of difficulty; they are NOT "mixed up." Please stop disseminating such fallacies to already stressed and confused parents and students.

Comment #1 by M Scharf on 2012 07 23

Contrary to the assertions made in the above article, the material tested on the SAT is aligned with high school coursework. The College Board conducts regular curriculum surveys to ensure the SAT reflects the reading, math and writing skills being taught in our nation’s high schools and considered by college educators to be crucial to success in college.

It’s also worth clarifying that the College Board – through the SAT Subject Tests and AP Program – offers valid and reliable assessments of biology, chemistry and physics skills and knowledge. As noted by the author, the ACT science section is a second reading comprehension test. At least one recent study has suggested it is an unreliable predictor of college success.

The SAT is designed to measure a student’s ability to think critically and problem-solve based on their knowledge. While these may not be straightforward skills – they are essential for success in college, the workforce, and in life.

Finally, the SAT is the only college entrance exam that requires writing – a necessary skill that many employers now assess as part of their hiring process. And while the article appears to tout the ACT’s lack of challenging vocabulary, the SAT, colleges and most employers value the communications skills that are anchored in a strong vocabulary.

For more information worth considering in the college admission process, here are 10 reasons why the SAT matters: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/20/my-view-10-reasons-the-sat-matters/

Jennifer Karan
The College Board

Comment #2 by Jennifer Karan on 2012 07 24




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