A dad just told me today that his daughter took the ACT last month and is now prepping for the next SAT. . .

My response to that: Really? What a waste of time and money!

Colleges don’t care about SAT or ACT
Every college will take either test. Thirty years ago (when Dad was applying to college) some colleges required the SAT and other colleges required the ACT. This meant that college-bound teens in the 80s took either the SAT or ACT based on where they were applying. Now, college-bound teens can focus on taking the test that’s best for them because all colleges will take SAT and ACT.

Teens will perform better on either SAT or ACT
I would suggest that rather than taking both tests, students should stick with the test that’s best for them. It’s likely that the score on one test will be higher than the the other test. And, some colleges may request to see all test scores. In those cases, a student may not want to reveal all of their test scores, so the best way to avoid sending unfavorable test scores is to take the test that will yield the highest score for the individual student.

Taking SAT and ACT takes too much time
Back to the example above of the teen who was taking both SAT and ACT, if she wants to retake either test, there’s really not enough time to retake both tests. The testing calendars do not easily accommodate taking both tests multiple times. For example, if a high school junior is planning to take both tests twice during 11th grade, here’s what the schedule could look like:

6 weeks SAT prep

November – Take first SAT

January – Retake SAT

6 weeks ACT prep

April – Take first ACT

June – Retake ACT

When I look at this testing schedule, my initial reaction: Junior year is too important to spend majority of time prepping for standardized tests.

Don’t forget about SAT II
Also, his daughter has a couple of colleges on her list that request 2 SAT Subject Tests.

What? – The SAT Subject Tests are also referred to as SAT II and have been around since 2005. There are 20 SAT Subject Tests available. Since College Board writes the SAT Subject Tests and the Advanced Placement exams, when students take an AP course, they are preparing for the AP exam and a similar SAT Subject Test.

Therefore, with her AP exams in May, his daughter would be better off foregoing the May SAT and taking 2 SAT Subject Tests, instead, in June.

Decisions about when to take SAT or ACT and/or SAT Subject Tests must make sense for the teen’s test-taking abilities and college list options.

Author: Pamela E

Dr. Pamela has helped thousands of teens attend the college of their choice. She brings her 25 years experience in education to assist families, schools, and employers with college selection, admissions, financial aid, and more. Dr. Pamela holds a PhD from Stanford School of Education, and an MBA from Dartmouth.

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