sat-vs-act-testThere’s a lot of stress involved in applying to college. One of the biggest ones is deciding which admission test to take – the SAT or ACT. Colleges will accept either one. Students need to choose the test that they are likely to do better on. Obviously, the higher a student can score, the better the chance of getting into more colleges, especially highly selective ones.

Deciding between the SAT and ACT was easier in the past as the two tests were quite different. Now, it is not so easy. The new redesigned SAT looks a lot more like the ACT, and both are covering much of the same material.

Then there is a third possibility: do students even need to take these tests? There is a mini-trend of some colleges and universities not using the SAT or ACT in the admission process. Believe it or not more than 850 schools are test optional or test flexible in making admission decisions about substantial numbers of applicants who are recent high school graduates. A list of these schools can be found on the website. Some are exempting students who meet grade-point or class rank criteria. Before skipping the SAT or ACT, students should definitely contact the schools to which they are applying to make sure that they do not need to take either test. They may find out that taking one of these tests is necessary to get financial aid, especially merit aid.

Most high school students are still likely to take either the SAT or the ACT. Deciding between them cannot be resolved with a coin toss. Students need to take one or more practice tests. If they do considerably better on one test, that one should probably be their choice. If their scores are about the same on both tests, they should base their decision on the format and test content they prefer. Students can find free sample tests on both the SAT and ACT websites.

Students can find help in deciding which test to take from their high school counselors. They may also find help from independent college counselors who can guide them through the admission process. David Kim of C2Education gave me insight into how students can find the college admission test that is right for them. Visit the C2website to find out more about the services that independent college counselors, like David, offer.