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SAT vs. ACT - How Do You Decide?

Hi Lee,

I have listened to your lessons on the different high school tests, but I still cannot decide which one to choose for my daughter. She is using the Kaplan SAT prep software this year, and while she had no trouble with reading and writing, she can't remember how to do the simplest math equations. She has always struggled with both math and science, so I can't just have her take ACT. Any suggestions?

~Bev

Hi Bev,
Yes, I do have a suggestion.  Have her take a sample test in SAT and in ACT, and see which one she scores best in.  Otherwise we're just GUESSING.  Statistically, 1/3 do better on one or the other, and it's not always the test you think is the best.  So I would ABSOLUTELY try both tests at home first, before you decide.

You can get sample tests online, www.collegeboard.com and www.act.org.  You can also go to the library and check out an SAT and ACT book, and take the test in those.  I believe the librarian may actually make copies for you of the tests (I've been told they can do that, anyway.) Each test is about 3 hours long, and I know it's a total pain to do it, but it's SO worth it!

I just heard from a subscriber that her daughter got a full scholarship PLUS room and board, PLUS books and expenses, PLUS a $600 stipend to attend her first choice college.  The mom said she was thankful for my help, so I asked her what was the most helpful thing I did.  She credited my advice on sampling both tests.  She said she would have NEVER guessed that her daughter would do better on the ACT, and it totally didn't make sense to her.  But she tried my advice and pre-tested her daughter, and had her take the ACT instead.  Not to over-state things, but it saved her gagillions of dollars for college.

Even if your child doesn't test well, she'll likely do worse on one of the tests, so it can still save you money.  You don't know unless you try.  If your daughter balks, you can give her a no-school day as a reward for taking the test, or bribe her with money.  Whatever it takes, I think it's a good idea.

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Comments 6

Guest - Homeschooling in Nova Scotia (website) on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:28

We will likely have to take a 5 hour drive to take the SAT or the ACT. We live on an island

We will likely have to take a 5 hour drive to take the SAT or the ACT. We live on an island :)
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 21:16

That can be frustrating, Kimberly. I know how you feel, though. We live on the Colorado prairie, so everything is a long drive for us too!

Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

That can be frustrating, Kimberly. I know how you feel, though. We live on the Colorado prairie, so everything is a long drive for us too! Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Eileen on Monday, 10 March 2014 05:41

Unfortunately, in some parts of the country you only have the choice of one test. The SAT is not available in my town. The nearest offered SAT is over an hour away. Hotel? no; driving the distance that morning and expecting to get there on time without incidence? not going to risk it. So we're stuck with the ACT and I think my son would do better on the SAT. He'll just have to study harder for it.

Unfortunately, in some parts of the country you only have the choice of one test. The SAT is not available in my town. The nearest offered SAT is over an hour away. Hotel? no; driving the distance that morning and expecting to get there on time without incidence? not going to risk it. So we're stuck with the ACT and I think my son would do better on the SAT. He'll just have to study harder for it.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Monday, 10 March 2014 09:13

Dear Eileen,
How frustrating! Everything is a long drive for us too. We live on the Colorado prairie!
Robin
Assistant to the HomeScholar

Dear Eileen, How frustrating! Everything is a long drive for us too. We live on the Colorado prairie! Robin Assistant to the HomeScholar
Guest - Lee (website) on Sunday, 30 August 2009 12:45

Hi Renee!
Yup! It's you! It's a great story with a great lesson for other homeschool moms. Thanks for giving me permission to share it! I know others will benefit!
Blessings,
Lee

Hi Renee! Yup! It's you! It's a great story with a great lesson for other homeschool moms. Thanks for giving me permission to share it! I know others will benefit! Blessings, Lee
Guest - Renee on Thursday, 22 January 2009 08:51

Tee hee... I think Lee may be alluding to my dd. Madeleine was granted a full four year tuition/room/board scholarship plus $600 yearly book stipend as well as a month long summer abroad program (her only expenses during that are her meals). She is so excited and is even heading there this weekend for a Leadership Conference.

Tee hee... I think Lee may be alluding to my dd. Madeleine was granted a full four year tuition/room/board scholarship plus $600 yearly book stipend as well as a month long summer abroad program (her only expenses during that are her meals). She is so excited and is even heading there this weekend for a Leadership Conference.
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Tuesday, 24 November 2020

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