High school juniors continue to question whether they should take the SAT or the ACT. The vast majority of colleges and universities that participate in the Common Application accept either test. Students have a variety of options to research the requirements for admission of their target colleges. These range from using “college advisory sites” like Admitted.ly, to visiting a college’s website or using the Common Application’s list of admission requirements. So, selecting which test is a better option for a particular student may be a matter of considering the subject that student may choose as a major.
A recent article in Business Insider reported College Board’s 2014 analysis. It indicates, “Students who plan on majoring in multi/interdisciplinary studies tend to do better on the SAT than those who major in engineering or math . . . Students planning to major in multi/interdisciplinary studies have the highest combined reading and writing scores, which makes sense as this major encompasses a wide array of talents.” The average score for these students was 1748 out of 2400 points. Students intending to major in mathematics or statistics scored 1681, and liberal arts students scored 1614. (A more comprehensive list appears on the Business Insider article.)
Students who intend to major in math, science, or engineering might be more inclined to favor the ACT. Instead of the three sections on the current SAT (Reading, Writing, and Math), this test has four sections: Reading, English, Math and Science as well as an optional essay. It contains slightly more advanced math in the form of trigonometry. It also has a science section; however, students need not memorize scientific formulae or processes, as the science section presents studies and data that test-takers must analyze.
These decisions may all be moot by this time next year, as the College Board’s “newest” SAT appears to be moving closer in format and content to the ACT. In fact, some motivated sophomores are already preparing for this year’s SAT in lieu of the unknown new SAT that will appear in March 2016. Whatever the choice, ACT or SAT, the key to success is diligent preparation.