Consider the ACT as an Alternative to the SAT


The SAT exam has always been the college admissions test of choice along the East Coast. However this trend is changing as the ACT gains popularity. The ACT, for years dominant in the central states, is now also gaining popularity on the East Coast. Students are now presented with a choice of college admissions tests.

The most recent example of this change was seen in one Georgia high school in Marietta County where there was a 36 percent increase in students taking the ACT compared to only a 7.45 percent increase in students taking the SAT test (Marietta Daily Journal).

Another example was seen in Washington, D.C., still a primarily SAT dominant area, but whose school officials have noticed an increase in “more local seniors trying both tests, rather than seeking to improve their SAT scores by retaking it” (Washington Post ). And that’s the beauty of having an alternative test to the SAT, the fact that students have a choice and are not limited to relying on the success of one test to demonstrate their academic standing to a desired college or university.

You might be asking yourself why the sudden emergence of more ACT test takers on the East Coast? All colleges now accept both the SAT and ACT for college admission, including the most competitive schools such as those in The Ivy League.  This can drastically widen the pool of test takers who may have been previously hindered by their performance on the SAT and now have a chance to try an alternative test that might better reflect their academic abilities.

Another reason could be that the SAT is viewed by some as measuring a student’s innate ability to learn, whereas the ACT is seen as a test of what the student has actually learned.  While both tests are accepted by colleges, there are differences. The ACT questions are typically seen as more straightforward, while those on the SAT are trickier and more reasoning oriented.

Many colleges now understand that not every student fits the “cookie cutter” mold for only one test. Knowing about the differences between the SAT and ACT provides students with some flexibility. For example, the ACT includes a science section, which is not on the SAT, and an optional essay section (mandatory on the SAT). Students and parents now have the opportunity to choose the test which best fits their child.

For a quick, 90 second tutorial on which test may be best for your child, check out our SAT vs. ACT video.  And don’t forget — here at ECTutoring, we offer a free ACT practice test so that students can compare these scores to their PSAT scores.  Often, this information helps students to understand which test they should focus on when preparing for college entrance exams.


This guest blog post was written by Daniel Ascher, M.Ed., President of A+ Test Prep and Tutoring,, a Philadelphia area provider of one-to-one test preparation tutoring.