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ACT Vs. SAT  
User currently offlinePDXtriple7 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 695 posts, RR: 0
Posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1365 times:

In the good spirit of today's ACT (which I took this morning), I was wondering which lovely standardized test people prefered to take? I'm still torn as I've taken both the SAT and the ACT. The ACT is easier in my opinion, but the time constraints make it extremely difficult to fully finish all four sections. The SAT test more of one's reasoning skills, not what they have learned, which can definately benefit good test takers. What say you?

35 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7792 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1359 times:

I took both, did the SAT twice (though the test has changed dramatically since I took it). Scores were 28 for ACT composite, 1170 for the first SAT, 1280 the second time.

Honestly I don't remember one being easier or harder than the other. There were just a few different testing strategies for each test. Particularly w/ SAT you should not guess if you could not easily eliminate 2-3 of the choices. IIRC you lost 1/4 point for not answering, 1 point for a wrong answer. Whereas an incorrect or blank on ACT would have the same point deduction.

I never had a problem with time constraints in multiple-choice tests. I've always been pretty quick taking them. But it has been 10 years or so since I did those tests, so I just have vague rememberances of them. Though the one thing I know for sure, there are much better ways to spend a Saturday morning than taking the ACT.



Right now at work I am coordinating a test prep series for GRE and GMAT. And it never surprises me how worked up students get over these tests... and subsequently do really bad on full-length practice versions. To do well on these types of test all you have to do, and I am not kidding here, is have paid attention in school and actually done the work; and also have some idea on how the test actually works. Really quite simple.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlinePDXtriple7 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 695 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1356 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 1):
Though the one thing I know for sure, there are much better ways to spend a Saturday morning than taking the ACT.

That's for sure. Thanks to the test, I didn't get to see my newborn cousin!

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 1):
Right now at work I am coordinating a test prep series for GRE and GMAT

I've seen stuff on these tests, but what exactly are they? I'm interested in business, so I know I'll have to take one of those for graduate school, but are they specific to business, medicine, etc., or are they more general like the SAT so it doesn't really matter if you take business courses as an undergrad in order to do well on them?


User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7792 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1349 times:

GRE is the Graduate Record Examination, which is the entrance exam for most graduate programs in science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. It is owned, developed and produced by ETS, same folks who do the SAT. And it is VERY similar to the SAT. Made up of 3 sections; writing, math, and verbal. Again a lot like the new SAT introduced last spring. The biggest difference is that GRE is done on computer, and has been computer based in most of the world for a little more than 10 years. This always throws people off who don't know anything about the GRE. However GRE changes pretty dramatically in October 2006. Major changes in content and delivery... plus scores will be scaled differently.

GMAT is the Graduate Management Admssions (or Assessment) Test, which is the extrance exam for graduate business programs (MBA). It is currently administered by ETS (though after the new year it will not be), but owned and developed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). Content and format of GMAT is virtually identical to GRE. There are some subtle differences, certain question types vary, such as GRE has analogies, GMAT has sentence corrections; plus the verbal and math sections on GMAT are longer (75 minutes a piece vs. 30 and 45).

Then you have LSAT (for law school) and MCAT (med school). But I really do not know nearly as much about those tests as I do GRE and GMAT.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21730 posts, RR: 55
Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1346 times:

I found the ACT to be a heck of a lot easier than the SAT, for whatever reason. I got a 1300 and 1400 on the SAT (took it twice, with a 600/700 and 650/750 math/verbal split respectively), and a 33 on the ACT. Never studied much for any of them.

I'd say I enjoyed taking the ACT more than the SAT (as much as one can enjoy taking a test - it was the day after the Yankees had lost the 2003 World Series, so I was feeling pretty crappy in general). I have no idea why that is, but that was just my sense about it.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineStevenUhl777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 1321 times:

Ahhhh....standardized testing...a subject I love to HATE! I always did well in school, but standardized tests always got the better of me. I would love to see them banned entirely, and have schools use evaluative measures such as writing skills, quality and exent of relative work experience, measure of character, demonstrated ability to work with others, among others. However, these tests are the only way to quantify and compare students of similar backgrounds, abilities, etc. So, we're stuck. There's gotta be a better way...

As for me, I took the ACT and SAT, and bombed both. I got a 22 on the ACT (after taking it a 2nd time...got a 21 the first time) I got an 890 on the SAT. It was quite a bit different in 1990/91 than it is now. Luckily for me, Willamette University looked beyond just these stupid scores and considered me as an individual with other strengths, and I still got in.

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 1):
To do well on these types of test all you have to do, and I am not kidding here, is have paid attention in school and actually done the work;

That's step #1. The GMAT (which I've taken twice now) and GRE are used for grad. school, yet the level of math and english is at the high school level. It's something that everyone has seen before, but the big difference is the way the material is tested. It's worded and presented differently than in a high school math class.

What I FINALLY realized is that these tests measure your ability to stay focused for an extended period of time on various subjects. It's a test of your confidence level vs. the difficulty of the test. The best way is to understand how the test is structured, how it's scored, and find a way to maximize your capabilities and minimize your weaknesses...essential for grad. school. For me, after taking a prep. class and self-study, I started to take as many 3 1/2 hour practice tests as I could stand, so that I could get used to staying awake and focused and find ways to shorten the time it took to answer every question.

I took the GMAT the first time and got a 370...I broke down mentally an hour before it ended, and since I knew I bombed the math part, the lack of confidence snowballed, and I bombed the verbal as a result, which is usually my strength. I took eight months off and reevaluated what I wanted, and finally realized I owed it to myself to find a different way to study and that's when it occurred to me to just practice taking the entire full-length test. I took it again this past January, and increased my score 90 points! I did better on math, but since I felt better about that, I looked forward to verbal, and got the mean score of 27 on it. I was able to stay focused the whole way through to the end, and knew I had done better.

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 1):
Though the one thing I know for sure, there are much better ways to spend a Saturday morning than taking the ACT.

Not to mention blowing $225... Wink  Yeah sure

Quoting PDXtriple7 (Reply 2):
I've seen stuff on these tests, but what exactly are they? I'm interested in business, so I know I'll have to take one of those for graduate school, but are they specific to business, medicine, etc., or are they more general like the SAT so it doesn't really matter if you take business courses as an undergrad in order to do well on them?

Specifically, the GMAT for the MBA program. Some schools, such as Seattle Pacific University, will accept either/or. But, that's rare. For MBA, plan on taking only the GMAT. I recommend Kaplan, which is about $37 with the CD. The CD is interactive and evaluates all areas of the test, to see where you need help, and where you're ok. Also, it is a great study tool for the main concepts. Between that and practice tests, I don't know if you need to take a prep. class...just my opinion...sorry DesertJets... Wink

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 3):
GMAT has sentence corrections; plus the verbal and math sections on GMAT are longer (75 minutes a piece vs. 30 and 45).

Specific to the GMAT, and most likely why MBA programs only want students to take it, is for the critical reasoning and the tricky data sufficiency problems. That's key in a business program. The skills you need to beat the GMAT are the same ones you'll need in grad. school.

Good luck! I was admitted to Seattle Univ.'s MBA program this fall, and in my first term. Since my math score was below par, they asked me to take their business calculus class first, and then once I passed it, they admitted me, along with letters of recommendation I turned in, plus the essay and work experience I had coming in.

I might also add that while your score will remain nearly the same if you retake the test several times (my 90 point increase is rare), the ability of the test to predict success or failure in the first year of grad. school is at less than 50%...which doesn't say a lot for that test. That was something the prep. class teacher told me.


User currently offlineFriendlySkies From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 4113 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1306 times:

I never took the SAT and I got into Georgia Tech, so, ACT for me!

User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7792 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1306 times:

Quoting StevenUhl777 (Reply 5):
That's step #1. The GMAT (which I've taken twice now) and GRE are used for grad. school, yet the level of math and english is at the high school level. It's something that everyone has seen before, but the big difference is the way the material is tested. It's worded and presented differently than in a high school math class.

Well that is the big trick to doing well on these tests. The math section doesn't ask you to add 2+2 or find the hypotenus of a triangle. Though you do calculations as simple as that. But that isn't what the test tests... it tests your ability to figure out the question (for the lack of a better way of explaining it). What I try to reinforce, constantly, to my students is that they already know all the material on the test. You just have to learn how to deal with the test. Hopefully that message will get across.

Quoting StevenUhl777 (Reply 5):
Specific to the GMAT, and most likely why MBA programs only want students to take it, is for the critical reasoning and the tricky data sufficiency problems. That's key in a business program. The skills you need to beat the GMAT are the same ones you'll need in grad. school.

Actually GRE has a similar question type to data suffieciency, called quantitative comparison. The structure is pretty close as well. Two pieces of data; A is bigger, B is bigger, both the same.... But then the test changes dramatically in October 06, so questions types will change.

Quoting StevenUhl777 (Reply 5):
Between that and practice tests, I don't know if you need to take a prep. class...just my opinion...sorry DesertJets...

Actually I do not work for Kaplan or Princeton Review, so no offence taken. I actually work at a university, so this prep class is actually for the two programs that I work for. Though if one if disciplined enough to do a self-study for one of these tests I think that is great. But you have to take it seriously. Set aside an hour or two a night to work through the material, practice, etc....




As for retaking, IIRC your score can vary ~30-50 points if you do no additional prep. but this also means going down 30-50 points. Despite how heavily research and developed these tests are there is THAT much error within a score. Which is why schools using cut scores is a bad idea. However, and this is from ETS' own research with GRE. Your complete GRE score along w/ your undergrad GPA is the strongest single predictor of FIRST YEAR graduate school success. But the correlation is only a .35 or thereabouts, which while significant is a weak correlation.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineAirWillie6475 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2448 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1263 times:

The SAT, I wish I could have all the inventors of the SAT round them up line them up against the wall and.... well you know the rest. That was an absolutely brutal test. The thing that is so frustrating is that its not an actual test about things you know, it's all bullshit so they can test how intelligent you are, it's more of a physcological test. The ACT on the other hand is no bullshit it's straigt forward, what's 2+2. That's why it seems easier. But there is a tradeoff that you have to complete more questions in less time than the SAT. In caliornia the SAT is a BIG thing, in other states I think they vallue the ACT more. I used the ACT for college and I got into my first choice.

User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 3011 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1254 times:

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 8):
In california the SAT is a BIG thing, in other states I think they value the ACT more.

Correct. Here in California almost everyone takes the SAT. In fact I don't know of any testing center that would offer the ACTs. The SAT is a very brutal test. And personally I think it does not show how educated you are. As someone mentioned above its more of a phycological test. I took mine last June and got a 1780. I'm taking it again in the beginning of November, but I highly doubt my scores will increase. All you are doing is fighting against time, and hoping you will get the answers right. When I took it the test took 5 hours exactly with a combined 13 minute break throughout the entire thing! The test just doesn't make sense. But oh well, what can we do! We are obliged to take it!

Aeroflot777


User currently offlineCaptOveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1228 times:

I took them both. I think the SAT was a bit easier, not sure why though.

I seriously doubt how important either test really is for admissions to most colleges. Of the colleges I was admitted to I didn't actually make the "admissions requirements" for half of them. Unless you want to go to Cal Tech, or Yale or something just make a decent effort on the tests and hope for the best.

Colleges just want your money anyway, if you survive the first year they keep you, if you don't they still have your money.


User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8508 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1210 times:

Mississippi State basically does its admissions and academic scholarships according to the ACT. High school GPA doesn't matter much, ACT and your college GPA once you get here do.

I took the ACT three times and got a 29, 30, 31, in that order. Made a perfect 36 on the reading the first time, even though I actually missed a question. In the South, no one takes the SAT, unless they're planning to go to a school that prefers or requires it, which for sure isn't any of the SEC schools.


User currently offlinePDXtriple7 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 695 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1208 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 11):
took the ACT three times and got a 29, 30, 31, in that order. Made a perfect 36 on the reading the first time, even though I actually missed a question.

Nice. I got a 29 the first time too. I thought you had to get 100% to get a perfect 36, unlike the SAT?


User currently offlineLentigomaligna From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1205 times:

I took the SAT 3 times and the ACT once. I got a 29 on the ACT despite my 35 on the math section, since I blew through the Science Reasoning part thinking it was too easy and I really just wanted to leave (it turned out I sucked @ss on that section - like a 21 or 22). The ACT didn't seem to do as much for me as most the schools I was looking at wanted the SAT. The first time I took the SAT I got in the 1300's, the second time my score shot up by 130 points, and the third time by another 50 . Now with the writing section I'd probably suck. Looking back I think the ACT was a waste of time as were my SAT II's (I wish I'd taken more AP tests though).

User currently offlineMaverickM11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 17681 posts, RR: 46
Reply 14, posted (9 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1204 times:

I aced the ACT so I prefer that one  Wink.


E pur si muove -Galileo
User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 1182 times:

Whoever said people that live in the south don't generally take the ACT is correct. Unless applying for admission to east coast schools, most people prefer the SAT.

I took the SAT cold turkey the first time and scored a 1330. I took an expensive Princeton Review class the second go around and again scored a 1330. My verbal was higher the second time. Standardized tests as a form of admission to universities are overated. They just want your $$$.


User currently offlineVSLover From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1897 posts, RR: 22
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 1178 times:

wow, a blast from the past.

i took both the ACT and SAT because at the time i (wrongly) assumed you needed both for college admissions--out here in colorado, it seems a majority of my peers took both as well. i took the ACT in 10th grade and got a 31 on it, and recall it being remarkably easy. the SAT i took at the end of 9th grade, scored a 1430 and by the time it actually came around to college applications, i was not confident in my score which placed me in the middle of the pack in the schools i applied to. so i bought a book and did practice exam after practice exam and then took it again my 11th grade year and scored a 1600, which clearly, i was satisfied with. as for the SAT II's i had to take three, so i opted for math II (i think thats what it is called) scored 800, bio scored 750, and the writing which i cannot remember my score.

somewhere along the way though i lost the ability to take standardized exams which really hurt me in the few classes in college where we had multiple choice exams. most recently, i decided to take the GMAT which i found very challenging...i took a baseline exam that indicated a score around 620, which was incredibly low for the schools i was looking at. i dropped $1100 on the kaplan course and upon completion i was socked with an assignment at work that had me travelling for four months--so much so that i had one night in my apartment per week. so i lost much of what i learned in kaplan, didnt have time to study and scored a 660 on the GMAT, which i was very disappointed in--other things in life have come up whereby i have had to re-examine where i am headed and how i want to get there, so that GMAT class and scores may end up being wholly useless for my purposes now.


User currently offlineCaptOveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 1172 times:

Quoting VSLover (Reply 16):
i dropped $1100 on the kaplan course

Wow, you must be old. Kaplan charges almost 3 times that much now.


User currently offlineVSLover From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1897 posts, RR: 22
Reply 18, posted (9 years 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 1171 times:

Quoting CaptOveur (Reply 17):
Wow, you must be old. Kaplan charges almost 3 times that much now.

for the GMAT course? thats ridiculous! i thought $1100 was a bit much! however i took the class in the spring on 2004, so maybe i got in before the outrageous increase.


User currently offlineHomer71 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 2245 posts, RR: 14
Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 1166 times:

I've never been to Waco, but I can vouch that San Antonio has a nice airport (especially Terminal 1) and will be nicer once they finish the new concourse.

Or were you asking about standized testing? Maybe I should've read the post first...



"On spaceship earth there are no passengers...only crew."
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7792 posts, RR: 16
Reply 20, posted (9 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 1163 times:

The standard 6-week Kaplan course is about $1400. It is the private tutoring that will run you $3k+. Frankly I do not know if it is worth all the money. However for some the structure that course offers works, and can markedly improve scores.

Though a GMAT score in the 600s is nothing to scoff at, unless you were only applying to Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Darden, etc.... IIRC that is already well into the high 60/70th percentile.


Even though I work in higher ed, I am not convinced how much standardized test scores matter.... more than just as a gatekeeper. VSLovers 1430 SAT score is very respectable. Probably a 90th-something Ptile score too. But when you are applying to top highly selective colleges and universities, everyone has a 1400+ SAT score, 3.8 high school GPA, president of the senior class, and varisty track captian in their resume. Once you go beyond the top 50 or so highly selective ivies, privates, and publics in the US, the remaining few thousand colleges can usually take you in. They got seats to fill, and you have money to spend.


SAT/ACT may impact any merit-based financial aid, but your high school grades likely play a larger role.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineCaptoveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 1160 times:

Quoting Homer71 (Reply 19):
I've never been to Waco, but I can vouch that San Antonio has a nice airport (especially Terminal 1) and will be nicer once they finish the new concourse.

Waco is OK if you have a Saab 340 Fetish.

The vocational school across town gets the interesting traffic, like a particular 747.

Maybe what I was looking at for the Kaplan course was the private tutoring. No matter what option you pick, the price is outrageous. However, I hear it does considerably improve scores, for tests that mean a lot more than the SAT and ACT.


User currently offlineDvk From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1058 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (9 years 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 1153 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 11):
. In the South, no one takes the SAT, unless they're planning to go to a school that prefers or requires it, which for sure isn't any of the SEC schools.

This is not true. Most top students in the South take both the ACT and SAT. You must make a high score on the SAT to be a National Merit Scholarship Finalist or Scholar. You can be no more than a semifinalist if you don't take the SAT. Because most of the top students are looking for as much scholarship money as possible, they're not going to squander potential opportunities by skipping the SAT.



I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.
User currently offlineMIA From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 875 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (9 years 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 1151 times:

I took the ACT and the SAT. Incredibly enough I got the same score on each test but I must admit I liked the ACT better than the SAT. I felt that the ACT was not out to get me, while I saw the SAT as Lucifer in a test booklet.


"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen."
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21730 posts, RR: 55
Reply 24, posted (9 years 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 1143 times:

Quoting MIA (Reply 23):
Incredibly enough I got the same score on each test

How does this work? The highest you can get on the ACT is 36 and the lowest you can get on the SAT is 400 (I think).

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
25 MD-90 : I stand by my assertation. Maybe in a rich area of a city or county, possibly, but the vast majority of students in the South who take a collegiate p
26 PDXtriple7 : Congratulations with those scores!!! Where did you end up going to college by the way? Well, I got my SAT II results back today, and got a 710 Math L
27 Mdsh00 : A few students in California take the ACT, and it is accepted in CA universities. However the norm here is the SAT. In high school, I and everyone I
28 Planespotting : I took the ACT twice, 22 the first time and 24 the second time. I was satisfied. In the midwest, kids mostly take the ACT unless they want to get into
29 VSLover : why did you end up taking matt level I and II?? i also took I but thought it was too easy, and ended up taking II which did help me when it came time
30 MD-90 : I do wish I had taken the SAT, but I didn't bother. I know of only one person from my high school class that did. It would've been nice to have someth
31 VSLover : whoa. haha, thats the primary reason i was determined to do better on the SAT. my mom also scored a perfect 36 on the ACT, and clearly i didnt. hey w
32 Tu144d : I think i'm gonna start ranting now...Even though I'm now a graduate student at MIT i didn't get into the undergrad program herewith a 1580 on my SAT'
33 Mir : Grades and test scores aren't always the good indicators of intelligence. When one is talking about a school like MIT, a lot of highly qualified stud
34 MD-90 : That's interesting. Maybe it was easier back then (my mother would've taken it around '67 or '68). Dad took the SAT, being from Connecticut, but I don
35 ATCT : I prefer the ACT's I scored higher on the ACT's also. ATCT
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