At Ivy Ed, we are in summer testing evaluation mode. What this means is that dozens of rising high school Juniors are streaming into our offices to sit for a practice test so they can see how they would perform on an actual one. We provide this service so that we can give students an idea of which test might be better for them, and why. The Ivy Ed test specialist team spends hours going over score reports for practice ACTs and PSATs and they read through lengthy questionnaires in order to best advise students on which test they should take. But we offer this caveat even after we’ve completed our reports: go with your gut! Students best know their strengths and weaknesses, and if they feel more comfortable with the SAT, then they should take it, or if they prefer the ACT, then they should take that. So parents, please listen to what they say, despite what you may hear from other parents, students, or the rumor mill in general.
We base our recommendations on a variety of factors, of which the most straight-forward is: which test did the student seem to score better on? There are many concordance charts available to the public that we use as tools: ones that compare the ACT to the new PSAT, the old SAT to the new SAT, and even the new SAT to the ACT (although that last one triggered some harsh words to be exchanged between the ACT and SAT folks). For the class of 2018 and beyond, students also need to consider a variety of factors such as: are you running out of time on the sections on standardized tests? (If yes, then the SAT may be better since timing is generally more generous.) Or, do you really like geometry? (If yes, then ACT math may be better for you.)
If you are a student reading this, ask yourself a few questions like the ones above. You are the one who will be spending at least 4 hours on a test, likely on a Saturday, so you need to decide where you can best spend that time. Making decisions is also a skill that you’ll need in college and beyond so you might as well start practicing that skill now. After you decide which test you’ll take, you should make up a study plan and we can certainly help you with that. And if, after you take the test–whether ACT or SAT–two times, you want to try the other one, then go ahead. Most colleges accept tests taken as late as October of Senior year in high school, even for Early Decision.
At Ivy Ed, we’re all about reducing the amount of stress, anxiety, and–quite honestly–time that goes into the college admissions and test prep process. And yes, it is a process, which means there will be huge strides and, perhaps, some smaller baby steps along the way. But you’re inevitably moving towards the goal. So go with your gut, take the test you prefer, and don’t look back. And we’re here to help you along the way.