Since college admissions officers will consider the highest score on either the SAT or ACT (and in some cases mix and match the highest subsection scores from multiple SAT test dates, aka “Superscoring”), then students often ask me, “Should I take both tests?”   Students are usually trying to determine which test will merit them the highest score, to stay as competitive as possible for admissions.  I recommend taking both the SAT and ACT.

In our three decades of experience, students who take both tests one time each have a point of comparison to determine which (if any) test to take a second time to try and boost their scores.  The SAT and ACT differ in format, so student’s performance and resulting test scores can be better on one test over the other.  The SAT is 10 sections, that alternate every 10 – 25 minutes, testing Critical Reading, Math and Writing knowledge.  The subject matter can change from time period to time period. The ACT with Writing is 5 sections, in various lengths from 30 – 60 minutes.  Each subject matter is tested separately, and only once–English, Math, Reading, Science, then Writing a timed essay.  The timed essay portion of the ACT is optional; however, many colleges require students to submit ACT scores with the Writing test, so be sure to check the admissions policy at each college.  Experiencing both tests and seeing the resulting scores can give students more reasons for retaking one test over the other, as well as identify the areas for improvement to prepare for future tests and increase their scores.

Note: If you consider yourself “not a good test taker,” some colleges have test-optional admissions policies, where SAT or ACT with Writing scores are NOT required as part of college applications.

For more information about taking standardized tests, see our earlier blog post: Scantron Tests: A Jedi Mind Trick?

Contact Creative Marbles if you’d like to arrange tutoring to prepare for upcoming SAT’s and ACT’s.  We can also conduct a professional analysis of the competitiveness of your college going resume, including SAT & ACT scores, and advise you about potential colleges for application. 

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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