Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

College Entrance Exams: SAT vs. ACT

Most colleges and universities require students to have not only a high school diploma for enrollment, but also some form of standardized test scores. The most popular of these tests are the ACT and the SAT exams. When applying to colleges, many students struggle with the decision of which test to take. In reality, neither of these exams is better than the other. The decision to take one test over the other should be based on which exam is the preferred requirement for the college you intend on applying to, and which test format suits your test taking abilities best.

To begin with, the tests vary in both length of time to complete and number of questions. The SAT exam consists of 140 questions, including a mandatory essay, and lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes. The ACT exam contains 215 questions, an optional writing section and only lasts 2 hours and 55 minutes. If you are a fidgety person, can’t sit for long periods of time or can’t concentrate that long, you might consider taking the ACT test. It’s also beneficial to know that the SAT does issues a minor penalty for any wrong answers, whereas the ACT does not.

The exams also vary on the types of questions they ask. While both offer mostly multiple choice questions, the SAT attempts to ascertain the test takers problem-solving abilities and is believed to be less straightforward than the questions on the ACT, which are broader and more general knowledge based. Also, in the reading sections, the SAT primarily concentrates on vocabulary and the ACT tends toward syntax, punctuation and grammar.

According to many college admissions counselors, it might be wise for students to take both exams and submit their best scores. If students are unable to afford taking both exams, they could inquire into taking both preparatory exams through their high school or a testing agency. These scores would be a good indicators as to which test the student would do best taking. Those same college admissions counselors assure students that most colleges and universities do not discriminate between exams if they are both accepted at their school. So before you begin applying to colleges and taking your entrance exams, do the research and consider which test will be best for you. A higher test score could mean the difference between an acceptance packet and a rejection letter.

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