Choosing a College Admissions Test

(UNDATED) – Along with a new year comes a new round of college admissions test dates. Scheduled test dates begin Feb. 6 for the ACT and March 13 for the SAT. Testing sessions for both extend into the summer. But before test prep begins, students should decide which test they’ll take.

According to U.S. News & World Education, while the end goal – gauging college readiness – is the same, there are differences between the ACT and SAT.

One key difference highlighted by test prep experts is that students with strong language abilities may fare better on the ACT due to its emphasis on verbal skills, whereas the SAT may be a better fit for math-savvy students.

Experts advise students to take practice tests for both to determine which exam is a better fit. Some test prep pros even advise students to sit for both the ACT and SAT, then retake their preferred test to boost the final score. Prior to the SAT, many students take the preliminary SAT or PSAT. Learn how students can use PSAT scores to plan for the SAT by creating a review plan and setting realistic expectations.

Important changes to note:

The College Board recently discontinued the optional SAT subject tests in the U.S., though subject tests will continue to be available to international students until June. Likewise, the optional SAT essay will also be discontinued after June both in the U.S. and abroad.

Many colleges have shifted to test-optional admissions, at least temporarily, due to challenges prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. But the ACT and SAT can offer benefits that extend beyond admissions, such as qualifying for national and institutional scholarship programs.