The Major College Entrance Exams (SAT and ACT)

The SAT and ACT are the two major tests that most colleges use in the U.S. use to help determine whether or not students should be admitted. A brief discussion of each one follows.SATThe SAT is pronounced “S-A-T.” It used to be known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, but is now referred to as the SAT Reasoning Test. This standardized test is developed, published and scored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). It is administered by the private company, College Board. Note that although other countries outside the USA have their own standardized tests, the SAT is available worldwide for interested parties.The test is made up of three parts: math, critical reading, and writing. There are also subject tests including English, Literature, History, Mathematics, Sciences and Languages.Testing is offered many times throughout the year and students need to sign up in advance and register, paying a modest fee.Many testing materials are available to help with advance preparation. To begin, check with a school guidance counselor and public library. Also search the Internet for tips and study aids and courses.ACTProduced by ACT, Inc., the ACT test, also known as the ACT Assessment, is a standardized achievement test for college-entrance. The ACT came into existence in 1959 and does compete with the SAT. Testing sections were pretty much the same and revised accordingly as changes were made over time. Most colleges accept both the ACT and SAT.Test DifferencesThere are some minor or notable differences between the SAT and ACT. The differences include:1. Different Main Objectives – The main objective of the ACT is to assess general educational development (i.e. achievement) of the student plus his or her ability to complete college-level work. The main objective of the SAT is to measure the critical thinking skills (i.e. aptitude) a student has for his or her academic success in college. However, how well each test targets and reaches its goals is not a subject of agreement among all parties involved in testing and education.2. Different Content – While the SAT has critical reading, mathematics and writing testing areas, the ACT has an optional writing test plus four mandatory subject tests: English, mathematics, reading and science. Plus on the whole, the ACT lacks vocabulary testing. And regarding math, the tests cover different degrees of math.3. Different Grading System – While the SAT deducts points for wrong answers, the ACT does not. Hence students are welcome to guess on answers for all questions; whereas with the SAT, they are penalized and advised against risk-taking.

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