SAT/ACT Diagnostic

 SAT or ACT, That is the Question!


Wait, there are two tests?

This is an inquiry that I get from every student I see.  They are already waist deep in the college process, searching and visiting schools, preparing for the entrance exam, keeping their grades up, now, they wonder, “I have to take TWO tests?!”

I wish the answer to this question could be an easy yes or no.  However, it is a little more complicated and requires the student to know a bit about themselves as a student and a tester. We do offer a comprehensive Diagnostic Exam to help make the choice.

First, it is best to understand the difference between the two tests.

The SAT is an aptitude test.  In other words, the test evaluates the skill of a student to take the knowledge they have and apply it to different kinds of problems.  That is why the SAT is considered “tricky”.  The questions are designed to be misleading and wordy, hence the testers must dig deep down into their bag of knowledge and extract just the thing that will help them best solve the problem.  It requires them to think outside the box.  Along with this, the SAT is a timed test that penalizes students for incorrect answers.  So, it is also important that students are able to determine which questions are worth answering and which questions are not worth answering.  This skill in itself is difficult and can paralyze the test-taker.  In general, if the student has traditionally been a good standardized tester and does reasonably well in school, there is no reason to believe that he/she would not do well on the SAT.

Conversely, the ACT is an achievement test.  That means that the student is tested using a straight-forward method, with questions that reflect exactly what he/she is learning in school.  That being said, the test is still timed and has many more questions per section than the SAT.  Many students claim that their experience on the ACT was just as stressful as the SAT due to the time crunch.   It is also important to remember to take the “optional” writing portion of the test.  Although it is not required by the test maker, the writing evaluation is usually required by colleges as part of the admission process.  The best part of the ACT is that there is no penalty for wrong answers, so a student should guess at every question and not leave any bubbles blank.  For students who do well in school, but have had difficulty with standardized tests in the past and feel guilty if they leave any answers blank, this is the test to take.

Inevitably, there will be students who feel compelled to take both exams.  Go ahead!  All that is lost is a Saturday morning.  The important thing in college admission testing is to do the best job on each test that is possible and to be sure to bolster the scores with a complete application and a killer essay.  The test scores are only part of what will make you a potential candidate for admission at any school.

Call The Schoolhouse today to schedule an appointment for a Diagnostic Exam at (973) 701-7111!