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Does Your Child Need SAT Help?



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SAT or ACT?

Test Differences

• The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.

• The ACT Math section tests more advanced concepts, such as trigonometry.

• The ACT tests English Grammar.

• The ACT Writing Test is not required.

• The SAT has a stronger emphasis on Vocabulary.

• The SAT has a guessing penalty, while the ACT does not.

The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities, while the ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. Hirsh urges students to try both. “Some kids do better on one than on the other,” he says. “We can chalk that up to the variations among human beings.”

Students can send colleges whichever scores are highest. Hirsh advises sending all scores, noting that most schools will work with the best set of data.

It is worth learning whether your child’s college of choice requires SAT or ACT scores. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (fairtest.org) reports that roughly 850 colleges (approximately 31 percent of four-year degree-granting institutions) do not use SAT or ACT scores to admit substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants. There is variation in how colleges implement this “test-optional” approach.

If your child is applying to a college that requires a standardized test, then — as with the choice of a college — you will have to make a difficult decision: Does your child need outside help, and if so, which preparation method to pursue?

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