A recent article by Tamar Lewin, in The New York Times, discusses a trend amongst high school students competing for places in the nation's most competitive colleges. More students are taking the ACT test. For the first time, in 2012, more ACT tests were taken than SAT tests.
The ACT and the SAT have been very competitive for the past few years, with the number of students taking each test running at a virtual dead heat. The is due to the fact that many students on the East and West Coasts are now taking the ACT, whereas in previous decades, very few opted to take the ACT test.
In fact one of the most interesting aspects of the trend towards the ACT test is that many students have not replaced the SAT with the ACT, but rather, are taking both exams and providing scores from each exam to colleges, in hopes of gaining an advantage. So in absolute terms, the number of students taking both the SAT and ACT tests has risen. But since the ACT is new to certain parts of the country, its numbers are rising faster.
While it is understandable that many students are considering taking both the SAT test and ACT test, it is worrying that many high school juniors may spend even more of the limited time they have preparing for college admissions exams. Junior year is a very busy time for high school students, with many taking honors and AP courses, in addition to after school activities, sports, jobs, volunteering, etc. It therefore makes sense to be careful about committing more time than absolutely necessary to test prep.
Rather than having students prepare for both the SAT and ACT tests, we at A+ Test Prep and Tutoring prefer to have our students take a free practice SAT and a free practice ACT so that we can examine the results from each, and help our students and their families determine which test is a better fit. We look at performance on the test, as well as each student's level of comfort with each test, before making a recommendation about which test to prepare for. Only then will be begin a test preparation program.