Carol Wood

A frequent question I am asked is whether a student should take the ACT in addition to the SAT.  The answer is, “Absolutely!”  While the SAT and ACT are very different tests, they both fulfill the same role in the college admissions process.

The tests are both designed to provide college admissions officers with both a predictor of a student’s first-year academic achievement in college and a common “yardstick” to use when comparing students from a wide range of educational backgrounds.   

Following are reasons students would benefit by taking both the SAT and ACT:
•Colleges today accept either test for admissions purposes.
•The two tests are different.  The SAT is a critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and problem-solving assessment.  It tests a student on how well he/she problem solves and critically thinks.  The ACT is an achievement or content-based test.  It assesses what a student has learned as a result of his/her course work at school.
•Students may score better on one test than the other.  Often times, for a student who is conscientious and works diligently on school course work, he/she will score higher on the ACT.  For students who have a high IQ, they often will score higher on the SAT due to his/her innate ability to problem solve.  By taking both tests, students can determine which test provides a better showcase of their abilities.
•Another reason to take the ACT is that it may save a student from having to take four SAT II Subject tests.  Some colleges will not require a student to take SAT-II Subject tests if he/she has taken the ACT.
•There are penalties for guessing incorrectly on the current SAT, however, there are no penalties for guessing incorrectly on the ACT.

I recommend to students that they prepare for and then take both college entrance exams two times each.  Students may want to consider hiring a professional to properly and thoroughly prepare them with test-taking strategies and a review and/or re-teaching of test content.  Additionally, I suggest students consider waiting to send scores to colleges after completing the testing process.  After taking the SAT and ACT both two times, using a conversion table, determine which test yields the higher scores and submit only that test to the colleges in which the student is applying, unless the college(s) use a “super score” system.  Colleges that “super score” will take the highest scores from each test area and from different test dates.  Sometimes colleges will even combine the best scores from the SAT and ACT in each area! 

For information on the ACT, visit and for information on the SAT, visit  

Carol is the founder and CEO of Total Learning Concepts, which provides academic tutorial support, SAT & ACT test preparation, accredited course work, and college admissions counseling and coaching to students of all ages and grade levels. For more information about Total Learning Concepts, Inc., please call 770-381-5958. For more information visit and