This is a question that has puzzled millions of teenagers.
Today I’m sharing test-selection advice from Adam Ingersoll, a co-founder of Compass Education Group, which is a large test-prep firm in Southern California. I wrote about his predictions regarding the SAT changes to come in this recent blog post:
Here are four things Ingersoll suggests students should do:
1. Decide what test to take at the end of 10th grade.
To find out if you should devote your time to the SAT or ACT, take a practice test for each. A significant minority of teenagers do better on one of these tests. A slight majority do equally well on each test.
You can find the practice tests on the ACT and College Board websites. Here are the links to each:
To take a complete ACT practice test, you have to pay $19.95 to get access to the ACT’s online test program. The ACT sample test questions are free on the site.
You can also get full-length tests by buying The Real ACT Prep Guide and the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide. If you buy the College Board book, you’ll have access to a special test-prep section of the College Board’s website.
Many test prep firms will also give free practice tests to teenagers as a way to attract new customers.
2. Compare ACT and SAT scores.
It can be puzzling knowing whether your ACT or SAT scores are superior. Visit ConvertYourScore.org or use this chart to find out:
By the beginning of 11th grade, lock in your test choice and live with it. Focus on either the SAT or the ACT and don’t change your mind. Don’t worry about schools favoring one test over another. It’s really a non-issue.
4. Don’t take your first real test too early.
Ingersoll is finding that a growing number of students are taking the real ACT or SAT in June as they finish tenth grade.
He advices student NOT to start that early. These students aren’t as mature and their reading skills haven’t developed enough. He said it’s also usually premature for students to take the ACT or SAT in the fall of 11th grade.
Students are more likely to do better if they wait to take their tests in the spring of 11th grade and the fall of their senior year.