The ACT and SAT: Myths and Facts


Katie Gauquie , Contributor

At the beginning of each Junior year, students constantly get bombarded with questions from family members about college, universities continuously sending emails promoting their school, and the biggest question of all— when to take the feared ACT or SAT test. At Prior Lake, the high school offers all juniors the opportunity to take the ACT as a school in April, but many students choose to take the test earlier while others constantly stress about the importance of the test score and how to study. They begin to feel overwhelmed.

No matter what what type of category a student falls into, all students possess multiple misconceptions about the two biggest standardized tests usually taken during junior year of high school. So, let’s dispel these misconceptions before taking taking the test in April.

Myth: Colleges only accept the SAT or ACT
False! Colleges across the United States do not have a bias about either test. In fact, a majority of universities will equally accept either score and taking one test over the other will not boost your chances of admission, the official ACT website claims. Students usually hear this myth from their parents or peers who are  misinformed about what colleges accept and look for. It is true that certain universities outside the United States prefer one standardized test oven the other or require a different test, so keep this in mind when applying to universities abroad.

Myth: If a student possess good grades, they will excel and receive a high score
While this may be true for few students, this does not apply to all students. According to Galin Education, some students excel academically but struggle with test-taking, especially in a timed testing situation. Some students who possess good grades and high class rank feel as if they do not need to study for the test, but the official ACT website claims that all students greatly benefit from review of past school curriculum. Both ACT and SAT tests have material from all four years of high school.

Myth: The ACT is easier than the SAT or vice versa
Again false. As the Princeton Review claims, both tests equally challenge students and possess similar testing material. It is entirely based on the student and his/her strengths and weaknesses. Just because science proves challenging to a student does not mean that they need to take the SAT to avoid science or take the ACT avoid the written portion of the SAT due its analytical nature. Once again, universities equally view both scores when considering admission so students should become educated and take practice tests of both the ACT and SAT to determine which test better fits their strengths.

As a senior who has gone through the entire process, the most important idea is that no matter the score, it does not define a student and only plays a part of the college admissions process. In reality, colleges utilize a holistic application approach meaning that they look at the student as a whole, not just their test scores. Trying your best on the test and seeking help for review still proves the best preparation for students.