Pre-College Assessments

Pre-College Assessments

There are two giants in the land of pre-college testing: the SAT and the ACT. This section begins with a comparison between the SAT and ACT, followed with information and resources for free and paid preparation materials for each test. There is also a discussion about SAT Subject exams, Advanced Placement (AP) exams and potential college credit, and the TOEFL, the assessment of English language skills.

What’s the Difference Between the New SAT and the ACT?

A Few More Considerations

The decision about which test to take may be determined simply by whatever admission criteria is used by your school of choice. However, if the school does not specify which test they want, making the “best” choice does not have to be difficult.

Although there is no hard science that proves that the ACT or SAT is easier, you probably want to determine which test format is better suited to your strengths. Each test highlights different skills, and getting familiar with their individual structures may help you sort out which is better suited to you.

Here is some more info that might help you decide.

In the End, It all Depends on You

In spite of their differences, neither test is more likely than the other to produce a great score. In fact, when viewing a comparison of the ACT and SAT, the vast majority of students perform comparably on both tests.

You may not even need to think in terms of ACT vs. SAT. If the colleges you are interested in accept scores from either test, you may want to consider taking both admissions tests. Each one tests you in a different way, so you might opt to take both to see which score is better.

However, if you are short on time and money and want to put your efforts towards test prep for only one of the tests, your best bet is to take a few practice exams. There are free and low-cost practice exams available electronically and in-print. If you are starting early and considering the tests as a sophomore, you may still have time to take the PLAN, which is similar to a practice ACT, or the PSAT, which is similar to a practice SAT.

If you are undecided about taking the ACT or SAT, you may feel more strongly about one or the other once you become familiar with the format of both. You can then evaluate your test performance and practice any areas of need before heading off for the real thing.


How Do I Register?

Registering at your (or another local) high school for the PSAT which is given each year in October. For both tests, if you cannot pay online by credit card (or are not eligible for a fee waiver), you must submit a paper registration, which can be obtained from your school counselor.