Pennsylvania Students Slowly Adopt Popular College Entrance Exam Option

A Plus NewsDespite National Popularity of the ACT, Most Pennsylvania Students Choose SAT over ACT

2012 marked the first year that high school students taking the ACT outnumbered students taking the SAT nationally. In 2013 even more students adopted the college entrance exam created by ACT Inc. Despite national popularity, the ACT has made slower gains in Pennsylvania.

In an effort to help Philadelphia-area families better understand their college entrance exam options, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring offers free, no-obligation SAT and ACT practice exams, along with test analyses and advice on which exam is a better fit for an individual student.

The ACT has traditionally been the lesser-known college entrance exam, especially in the Northeast (see a New York Times map detailing the popularity of each exam here). However, ACT scores are now accepted by all universities and colleges that request test scores from students.

“High school students across the country should understand that both the SAT and ACT carry equal weight in the eyes of college admissions officers,” says Dan Ascher, M.Ed., President of A+ Test Prep and Tutoring. “With a number of differences between the two tests, it’s essential for each student to determine which test will best showcase his or her knowledge and skills.”

In Pennsylvania, most high schools require students to take the PSAT, but not the PLAN (the ACT equivalent to the PSAT). This fuels misconceptions that the SAT is the most common, or better, standardized test format for prospective college students.

"With students as busy as they are today, they don’t have the time to prepare for two tests,” Ascher notes. A+ offers more than 15 free, proctored ACT and SAT practice exams each year in the Delaware Valley. Local students can also request a paper copy of a practice exam, to help them determine the test format that is best for them as they prepare for the curriculum-based ACT or the reasoning-based SAT.

A+ doesn’t recommend simultaneously preparing for both tests, as each has its own format and test-taking strategies. Focusing on one test format allows tutors to maximize time spent with each student to improve his or her final ACT or SAT score.

Some additional points about the ACT’s gain in popularity nationally compared to regional momentum in Pennsylvania:

  • Popularity is slowly growing for ACT test prep in the Philadelphia area. Five years ago, A+ had few test prep students interested in taking the ACT. Now one of every six A+ test prep students (17%) focuses on the ACT exam.
  • In the class of 2013 in Pennsylvania, 101,368 students (70%) took the SAT (according to the College Board), while 26,171 students (18%) took the ACT (according to
  • Nationally, 1.8 million members of the class of 2013 took the ACT, while 1.66 million took the SAT.
  • According to, since 2009, “the number of ACT test-taking graduates has increased by 23.5%.”
  • There are a number of differences between the SAT and ACT – for example, the ACT requires students to answer more questions per unit of time, but has a predictable order to its sections. For a more comprehensive list of differences between the two tests, click here.

About A+: A+ Test Prep and Tutoring provides one-to-one tutoring to over 600 students in the Philadelphia area annually. A+ employs 65 professional tutors, who offer academic coaching, instruction in all school subjects, and test prep for SAT and ACT exams. A+ tutors are available at the company's two office locations in Montgomery County, PA, at students’ homes and schools throughout the Delaware Valley, and online in a virtual classroom. Read more on their website,

For more information, contact Dan Ascher at 215-886-9188 or 610-520-0537.

Posted in Educational Trends, SAT, Test Prep, News, College Admissions, ACT

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