Last Updated On: June 1st, 2015
We’ve all heard a wide variety of myths and urban legends about the SAT/ACT, whether it be from a friend of a friend or an online forum.
Check out these 5 common myths about the SAT/ACT, broken down and clarified for your convenience.
1. There is an “easier” test date for the SAT/ACT.
MYTH! There are a lot of rumors circulating around that the SAT will score “easier” on certain test dates when fewer or less competitive students tend to take their exams. This is absolutely untrue. Students are not graded against individual testing dates, but against all students who took the test in the previous year, so the testing date will not affect your score in any way!
“But each test is made up of different questions, so some tests must be easier than others!”
While this may be true, CollegeBoard accounts for that by automatically adjusting scaled scores for the difficulty of each test. Since the SAT is used primarily as an objective method of gauging college-readiness, it would not be very useful if the testing scores were not consistent across the board. To give you an example, if you were to get two questions wrong on the math sections of an SAT that had easier questions, your raw score might translate to a scaled score of 750, whereas on an SAT that had harder questions, your raw score might translate to a scaled score of 780.
2. You should take the SAT or ACT multiple times
MOSTLY FACT! With Score-Choice for the SAT, you can now select which scores to send to colleges. That means schools won’t see any score that you don’t send to them. Similarly, ACT will only release the record from the test date you request. However, some schools calculate your superscore (i.e. the best performance from individual sections combined to make the best composite “superscore”). This may complicate things – one test may have yielded a really high score on the math section, but a lower composite score. In order to calculate the highest superscore, you may end up sending all of your scores. However, schools who only take your highest individual score may look down on taking the test so many times. For the ACT, most schools primarily look at the composite score, so taking the ACT multiple times doesn’t have any direct impact. The best practice would be to check the schools you are applying to and ask them about their individual score acceptance policies.
“But isn’t taking the test a lot of times good practice?”
Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you should treat the official test as practice. It’s better to set aside time to prepare thoroughly for the SAT/ACT and then take it rather than treating the official test as practice. There are many full-length practice tests available from CollegeBoard that you can take on your own time; for a more realistic testing experience, LA Tutors offers a free proctored diagnostic SAT or ACT once a month (click here or call 866-66-TUTOR for details). Reviewing your practice test with a tutor is a great way to understand your progress and adjust your preparation strategy accordingly.
3. The SAT is more widely accepted than the ACT.
MYTH! This myth may have been true 20 years ago. Today, both the SAT and the ACT are accepted by nearly all universities and are given equal weight. Since colleges will accept either test score, you should take the test you are best suited for. For more information about each test and how they stack up against each other, click here.
4. If you take the ACT, you don’t need SAT subject tests.
MYTH! Well, mostly… Some schools require or recommend one or more subject tests in addition to the SAT or the ACT, and some don’t. The best thing to do would be to check with each school you are applying to and make sure that you are meeting their testing requirements.
5. The ACT tests science so if you didn’t do well in biology, chemistry, or physics in high school, you shouldn’t take the ACT, right?
MYTH! The Science section of the ACT can often seem daunting to those who struggled in biology, chemistry, or physics in high school. However, that is not always the case. While the Science section content may originate from high school science curriculum, all the relevant information and definitions will be provided to you. The Science section tests your ability to read and interpret the graphs, tables, charts, and a basic understanding of the scientific method and basic components of an experiment. In fact, this section is more closely related to reading comprehension, as most of the information is provided in short passages.
At LA Tutors, we pride ourselves on staying up to date with the most current information so that we can better assist our clients. For a free consultation or diagnostic test, call 866-66-TUTOR today!