Millions of dollars are spent on pre-test tutors and coaching each year and yet test results are not the first thing colleges look at, nor are they the most important (ranking 3rd of the top 10 – see below).
Not all colleges even require standardized tests for admission, but when they do, the tests are either the SAT or the ACT.
The SAT is fundamentally an east coast phenomena (and a North East coast one at that). The ACT is the test used by most of the rest of the country and one can understand why:
· The ACT has four sections: reading, math, writing and scientific reasoning. There is an optional essay. The amount of time the student is given to complete each section is longer and contiguous – e.g., rather than a 15 minute section of reading followed by a 20 minute section of math, followed by 15 minutes of English and another 15 minute math, there is one reading section which lasts 30 minutes and one math section which lasts an hour. In addition, the student gets to chose which ACT scores to send to the college so if he or she has taken the test 3 times, s/he can select the best scores and send only those. ACT’s are graded on a scale of 1-36, with a 32 being the approximate equivalent of a 2200 on the new SAT. Finally, ACT’s are comprehensive enough that special subject tests are not required. www.actstudent.org
· The SAT covers math, writing and reading, and as of 2005, the essay counts. Many schools require SAT II’s or subject matter tests in addition to the regular SAT. The sections on the SAT bounce around from math to reading, back to math and then to writing. Students cannot select which SAT scores to send – so if the student takes the SAT three times and bombs miserably the 1st time, that test score is sent along to the college with the better scores – though students can request, in writing, that the college ignore certain scores. www.collegeboard.com