As a high school junior I just automatically assumed that would be the year I took the classic SAT reasoning test. I bought test prep books and even consulted an SAT tutor a few times.
After officially taking the SAT twice I felt like I had a sufficient score but I felt like I could have pushed for higher. That was when one of my high school counselors suggested I give the ACT a shot.
I didn’t think too much of what she said because at that point I felt a little tired from standardized testing. I ended up putting off the ACT and only took it once, a month before college applications were due. I just thought my SAT was fine but if the ACT just happened to turn out better, cool.
I walked into the ACT without any specific preparation for it despite the fact that I didn’t take the SAT until I had spent months studying. I ended up coming out of the ACT wishing I had spent all the time studying for the SAT on the ACT. Here’s why:
The general time sequencing of the ACT was so much more comfortable for me. Even after taking numerous full length practice SATs, those short 20 min sections never sat well with me and stressed me out. The ACT is formatted so that you just have a huge chunk of time for each subject. You have one 45 minute English section, one 60 minute math section, one 35 minute reading section, one 35 minute science section, and one optional 40 min writing test.
The big chunks made me feel like I had time to collect my thoughts and answer each question at really my own pace. If time pressure is a challenge you share with me, the ACT might be better for you just on this point alone.
This point is sort of similar to the first but basically with the SAT, you never know what subject the next 20 minute section will be on. Right after finishing a grammar section, you may go to a math section then back to a grammar section. If this sort of unpredictability and constantly switching gears in your brain adds stress for you, the ACT may relieve that. As I explained above, once you deal with the 60 min math section in the ACT, you can be rest assured you won’t see math again for the rest of the exam.
If you are good at interpreting graphs/tables and feel confident in your science skills than the ACT may be a good choice. There is a whole section dedicated to just science and if you do well, it can be a real composite score booster. It also helps showcase your interest/talent in scientific studies to college admissions officers. It’s like submitting a good SAT subject test score in biology but you can knock out the science section in just 35 minutes if you take the ACT.
Keep in mind these are just a few of the potential pros of the ACT. In addition, these may be cons of the ACT for other people. But if you relate to anything I said you really may find out that the ACT is the best standardized test for you!