The Ideal ACT Candidate

For the longest time, when people thought of college admissions, they thought of one test: the SAT. But times have changed. In 2012, more students actually took the ACT than the SAT—and that trend has only continued in recent years. There are many myths surrounding the debate about which test colleges prefer, but the answer is clear: colleges and universities treat the two tests exactly the same. This means that there should only be one factor determining whether you take the SAT or the ACT: which test is the right fit for you. Here are what we think are the defining characteristics of the ideal ACT test-taker.

Efficient. The ACT requires students to complete more questions in a shorter amount of time than the SAT does. For example, students have 60 minutes to complete 60 math questions on the ACT and 80 minutes to complete 58 math questions on the SAT. But the ACT tends to delve a little less deeply into topics because of the faster pace. This is especially true on the Reading section, where questions focus more on locating information than on a profound understanding of the passage.

Straightforward. While it would be wrong to put too much trust in the ACT, it isn’t trying to trick students to the extent that the SAT is. Both tests will set traps, but the SAT test-makers are especially adept at writing answers that seem ever-so-close but are incorrect. For the most part, the ACT presents information in a straightforward way and simply wants students to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts at hand.

Data-Minded. Unlike the SAT, which scatters data-interpretation questions throughout, the ACT has a whole section devoted to analyzing figures, tables, and experiments. The ACT Science section is fast-paced and demanding but can be a real strength for students who enjoy pattern analysis and deductive reasoning.

Every test-taker is different, but we’ve found that the ACT is a superior test for a large number of our students. It’s fast, yes, but it’s straightforward and tends to reward good, old-fashioned hard work. If you’re unsure of which test is the best for you, get in touch with us. We can put you through our comprehensive diagnostic process and help you make an informed decision.