ACT SAT Standardized Testing

Are two tests better than one?

Here’s a question that came in today. We thought that many of our blog readers may be wondering the same thing, so we decided to post it along with Michele’s answer.

Q: Last year my daughter took the SAT and ACT and submitted both sets of scores to colleges. (She’s going to Harvard in the fall.) Now, as my son, who is a rising junior, starts the process, I was wondering: Do colleges expect kids to take both tests? All things being equal, does a kid who takes the SAT and ACT — and scores well on each — have a ‘leg up’ on a kid, who only took one test, and scored about the same? Is ‘more data’ better? Or, is ‘less’ more?

A: No, colleges do NOT expect you to take both tests and actually don’t much care WHICH one you take as even if you take an ACT, they simply convert it to an SAT scaled score. In other words, if you score a 36 on the ACT and a 35 on the combined English writing section, that would convert to an SAT score of 800/800/780. If your SAT scores were higher, you’d submit those instead, or if it were a close contest, you could do as your daughter did and send BOTH and let colleges pick. But remember, they are picking whichever makes their stats look better. The moral of the story is, if you can’t decide, send both scores, but do NOT feel obligated to take two tests – figure out which one you would do better on and take just that one.

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