The first question every family faces when they embark on their test prep journey is whether to take the SAT or ACT. Of course, this is a question with no easy answer, as each student is different.
Test prep is a stressful and labor-intensive process, but it's also a crucially important one. At LogicPrep, we've determined that students have the most success by taking diagnostic SAT and ACT tests at the beginning of our relationship together.
Through our diagnostic process, every student is afforded the opportunity to experience each test and look at their scores before making a decision. When we look at the test scores, we're also looking at how and why a student makes the mistakes that they do. We look at the topics, the frequency of those topics, the difficulty level, etc. All of those factors help us determine if there is a higher ceiling on one test over the other. A great added benefit of going through the diagnostic process is meeting with a variety of instructors, meeting with at least two instructors before each test. We empower our students to take control and choose the instructor they believe is the right fit, the best teacher that understands them and their needs. You can read even more about our test prep process in detail here.
Before or even after the diagnostic process, it's important to understand the differences between the SAT and ACT, as many factors can play into the decision:
The SAT is a dense, critical reasoning test. Students are given more time per question, but in typical SAT fashion, each question has layers. The ACT is a test of speed and recognition. The timing on the ACT is something that seems impossibly fast, but with regular practice tests and the right strategy that plays to their strengths, many students become much more comfortable navigating the ACT.
The nice thing about the SAT and ACT is that the content is nearly identical across both tests. Many students will spend the early part of their test prep working on the gaps within their knowledge of the grammar rules and math topics. However, keep in mind that the questions on the math section are much more akin to what students would see in school. A student's skill set may play better with one test or they could just be more comfortable with the format of a test.
Really, the big difference down the road is each test’s strategic approach. The SAT plays better with strong readers. Start reading regularly now! I find a lot of students enjoy reading; the issue is finding the right book (check out the LP team's favorite books here). Suffice to say, these tests are not insurmountable — but knowing what needs to address and playing to strengths, rather than going in blindly, makes all the difference.
Lastly, when it comes to submitting test scores, schools do not have a preference for the SAT or ACT. So students just need to do what's best for them and their future.
The earlier students go through the diagnostic process, the more time we'll have to put together an effective plan that will address their specific needs. After all, understanding what you need to work on is half the battle.