Our last blog post discussed the differences between the SAT and ACT. While it’s important to understand the differences between the tests, before deciding on one or the other, you should take a practice test in each.
The College Board and ACT each offer their own test preparation materials, including practice tests that you can access in multiple ways: online, printed out, or by mail. In addition, many SAT and ACT tutoring companies administer practice tests. The advantage of taking a practice test with a tutor or tutoring company is that they can proctor it, keep time, calculate your score, and make it feel like a “real” test; they usually will also provide some detailed feedback.
If you take your practice tests at home, it’s important to set up your test environment with minimal distractions, whether that’s at your desk, the kitchen table, or another quiet place. You also need to make sure you have enough time to complete the test in one sitting.
There are many options out there for practice tests, but whether you take the test at home or with a tutor, you should mimic actual test conditions as closely as possible to get the most accurate results. In addition, try to take a paper and pencil practice test, because the SAT and ACT are still taken using paper and pencil (not on the computer).
You should compare how you felt about each practice test, and compare your scores in each using an SAT/ACT conversion table (easily found online). A conversion table will allow you to see which score was higher, even though the tests use different scales. For example, a 32 out of 36 on the ACT is equivalent to between 2160 and 2210 out of 2400 on the SAT. In addition, be sure to compare your ACT score to the old SAT out of 1600. Many colleges still rely more on the Critical Reading and Math section scores when reviewing applications, so it’s important to keep that in mind.