If you’re a high school student chances are you’ve heard about the SAT and ACT. Standardized testing is a huge buzz word in the American education system, but what do these giant tests even mean? What are they used for, and why do they matter? There are a lot of rumors and sources about these questions on the internet and among peers, contributing significantly to stress and confusion about the exams. Today, we’re going to debunk five myths about the SAT and ACT and hopefully clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding them. Here are the things to know about the ACT and SAT so you don’t get bogged down by misinformation.
Any university that takes standardized tests into account when considering admissions takes either the SAT or ACT. There is no advantage for submitting one score over the other. Contrary to popular belief, midwest colleges don’t prefer ACT and Coastal schools don’t prefer the SAT. Universities use these scores to help gauge how you fit in with other applicants at your school, and see how you compare to other applicants from around the world. This doesn’t mean that there are separate pools for considering applicants who took the ACT or SAT, but rather, that all universities use these scores as baselines. Standardized tests are not the only component of exams, but are rather one piece of the giant puzzle of admissions. That being said, it never hurts to have a higher standardized test score, and Park Tutoring courses can help you improve your score!
Some students ask “is the ACT or SAT easier to study for and take?” The SAT and ACT are different tests, not necessarily different difficulties. The data suggests that the majority of students actually score similarly on both exams. However, your mileage may vary. The SAT and ACT emphasize slightly different subject areas. You might do better on the SAT if you excel at mathematics, whereas, if you’re a speedy reader, you might be better suited for the ACT. If you start preparing for standardized tests in advance, you should take a look at both the SAT and ACT to figure out which one suits your strengths best. So to answer the question is ACT easier than SAT, it's not necessarily true per se, but rather that it depends on your own individual gifts and you should decide which one to take.
On a similar note, some students believe that taking both the SAT and ACT will improve their chances of admissions to elite universities. While it's true that higher test scores will reflect better on your admissions profile, it is also true that the exams test different subject areas, and your preparation will vary depending on what exam you choose to take. If you spend all your time studying for different standardized exams, your academic-life balance will probably be pretty poor. Furthermore, it is important to remember that these exams are only one part of the admissions process and it might be a better use of your time to shore up different parts of your application like extracurricular activities or school grades. If you focus on improving one standardized test score, you will find that you can develop more exam specific skills which can give you a massive advantage over students who are generally preparing for both exams. If you find yourself doing exceptionally well on one test, stick with it and try improving your score as best as possible!
This is an extremely common misconception that many students incorrectly parrot. Despite nearly everyone telling you so, the ACT and SAT are not curved exams. Instead, both exams use a process called “equating”, where results are weighed against data determined prior to the student taking the exam. That explanation was a bit jargon-heavy so simply put: a curve is where your score is compared to other test takers’ results after you take the exam, whereas equating compares the questions you’re given and compares their difficulty to questions from previous exams. Therefore, on the day of the exam, don’t worry about how your friends or classmates do and just focus on getting the best possible score you can.
This myth is partially true. It is true that more and more universities are starting to make standardized tests optional, however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the exam. Your scores can still help you stand out as an applicant, and they can also help you shore up some of your weaknesses, like a lower GPA or lack of extracurricular activities. Furthermore, nearly all scholarships from both universities and private donors still require SAT/ACT scores, so it actually pays to do well on these exams!
So there you have it, five myths about standardized testing debunked. Did these help clear your mind about some misconceptions regarding the SAT or ACT? Now that you know more about the exams themselves, why don’t you start preparing yourself to take them by reading the best SAT tips to improve your SAT score, or signing up for a Park Tutoring SAT/ACT course!
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