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Hello everyone,

I'm in IB1 year and I want to start taking SAT or ACT as well, but I'm not sure which one to take. Since I'm an international student ACT seems easier in terms of vocab but we have a score choice in SAT and that's what confuses me. Any ideas? Or does it make a difference for universities?

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I recommend taking the ACT, people I know who have taken both always score higher on the ACT. Also it eliminates the need to take SAT Subjects which are a pain, especially if you're interested in social sciences because as far as I can remember they only offer history.

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Take both and determine which you are better at. Colleges look at both scores the same. I was told by a college admissions counselor that girls who like subjects such as math and science do better on the ACT. However, don't just take them one time. The first time will not be the score you want. Take it as many times as possible and your highest score counts.

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I took the SAT and scored around 1900 at the most; I didn't like the format and the constant subject changes (reading section, then math, then reading, then writing...or whatever order it was)

I plan on taking the ACT soon, and the SAT again. But I took practice ACT's and they were generally better than my SAT score; it all depends.

SAT is an aptitude test, ACT is an achievement test, basically everything you have learned in school.

It's up to the person; if you can do problem solving and don't fall for tricks, SAT.

If you like direct questions, ACT.

My english teacher told us to look at it like a metaphor; SAT is more "IB" and ACT is more "AP"

It kind of makes sense, but not really XD

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I have taken bot SAT and ACT. Although ACT contains an extra portion o social sciences, it is much easier to score high, than in SAT. This is trues unless you are excellent at English and bad at Math and sciences, in which case i would recommend SAT. For me personally though, i prefer ACT as I am not that great in English sections of SAT.

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Hey all. I'm planning to either take the ACT with writing or two SAT II subject tests. I'm an all-around student (I don't necessarily excel in a particular subject); I'm also a B average student. From the feedback of others, I plan to take Math II as it doesn't seem too hard, but I'm worried whether Math SL will be enough for this or not. I'm planning to major in computer science and think the physics test will be beneficial; however, I looked at a prep book and it looks like a killer. I also considered Math I but was worried about making mistakes (I heard that making just one mistake already drops your score by 40-50 points).

And then again, I could also take the ACT, but is it the case for all colleges that taking the ACT is a completely replacement for SAT (including the subject tests)? My SAT score was decent enough but studying my ass off again wouldn't really be my cup of tea.

Edited by w`t

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Hey all. I'm planning to either take the ACT with writing or two SAT II subject tests. I'm an all-around student (I don't necessarily excel in a particular subject); I'm also a B average student. From the feedback of others, I plan to take Math II as it doesn't seem too hard, but I'm worried whether Math SL will be enough for this or not. I'm planning to major in computer science and think the physics test will be beneficial; however, I looked at a prep book and it looks like a killer. I also considered Math I but was worried about making mistakes (I heard that making just one mistake already drops your score by 40-50 points).

It really depends where you apply to. Seeing as you want to be a computer science major, I think you should take Maths II - it's more difficult than Maths I, and sometimes Maths I is considered a 'joke' and is of a similar level to the maths in the SAT I test (and lots more people take that test). Maths SL I think is quite a good preparation for Maths II (from what I remember), but there are concepts which are part of HL that you will have to learn, and that when you take the Maths II subject test you won't have finished IB and hence will have to study ahead anyways.

If you can handle Maths II with self-studying, go for it.

And then again, I could also take the ACT, but is it the case for all colleges that taking the ACT is a completely replacement for SAT (including the subject tests)? My SAT score was decent enough but studying my ass off again wouldn't really be my cup of tea.

All universities in my experience use the ACT with writing as a replacement for SAT I and SAT II subject tests. It does NOT count if you just take the ACT. If you do the ACT, you might as well do the ACT with writing; it's just 30 extra minutes.

However in your case it sounds like you were comfortable enough with SAT (and like your score), so I wouldn't bother changing if I were you. As long as you're willing to study for your SAT IIs you should be fine.

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I recommend the ACT over the SAT. The material is much more straight-forward, and the only issue people seem to have with it is time management (and the science section.) However, people usually score better on the ACT (I did) and science is really just being able to analyze data.

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I took the ACT With Writing too, and I can pretty much say that it was easy. Throughout the test, I just felt as if I'd been given multiple successive Paper 1:s on various subjects. In the end, I received a 31/36 composite on the first go with fairly little effort in studying (just 3 full practise tests, that's all). As far as tips go, I'd suggest the following:

General

  • When revising using a book, buy something that contains loads of practise tests and use those. The ACT should not contain anything foreign to you, as it is basically a test that you can get full marks on given that you know a little maths, for all other tests it is purely reasoning at speed. Therefore, I found it a lot more important to make sure I knew how the test worked and actually after doing a few practice tests I decided to not read theory at all.
  • Whatever the paper, answer the easy ones first and if you need time to think, get back to it later on.
  • In the ACT, you do not lose marks for guessing the wrong answer. So, if you don't know or are near to running out of time, just select one of the answers for any such questions, it has a probability of 1/4 of being correct and probability 0 for deducting marks if wrong.
  • In Writing, do not spend too much time planning. One way is to simply draw a line and list pros on the other side and cons on the other. After one minute of this, pick the view you have more points for and get writing. They want to see clearly structured essays with strong arguments and a little high-level vocabulary, which you cannot accomplish unless most of your time is actually spent writing the thing.

Reading/English

  • If you have a question where there seem to be two right answers, pick the one that is more formal. Often there are colloquialisms in there, but what they are looking for is the grammatically correct answer.
  • Read both the texts and questions carefully, the questions are sometimes inverse (e.g. Which one of these words does NOT refer to object y?). This also applies for other tests but is particularly important in reading.

Maths

  • Know your rules of algebra and other rudimentary maths concepts from trigonometry and algebra. Most of the questions are easy, but they rely on students being in a hurry and making stupid mistakes and/or wasting too much time on the few somewhat difficult question. You should be solving a question per minute, and no working needs to be written down unless you want to. The mark depends entirely on getting the right multiple choice option.
  • If a question is tough to crack, move on and get back to it later if you have time. This is particularly important in maths as the questions have a huge difficulty range and are not necessarily in order of difficulty.
  • Know your GDC and what it can do, it could get you through a few questions that you would not be able to solve in your head.
  • It is possible that you encounter maths you've never seen. For example I had a question on the second-degree expansion of a complex polynomial, which is only HL, so if you're not taking HL Maths, there could be questions that refer to concepts you don't know. In that case, do not panic, leave it and move on unless it can be solved by calculator.

Science

  • If you have a hard time analysing graphs or don't study physics/chemistry, make sure you know how to interpret basic things off a graph.
  • Learn to disregard the scientific jargon often present in these texts, most of the fancy words referring to species etc are irrelevant in terms of answering the questions. If a term is relevant, it is explained.
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I'm taking My SAT next week, yes it is hard and you need a lot of preparation for it but it's helpful too. Depends on where you are going for Uni (or where you wanna go), I don't know much about the ACT but it seems easier than the SAT. =)

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Guest Lognarithm

I'd say the ACT is easier to get a higher score in than the SAT - I got a 2070 on my first go-around with the SAT but a 34 on the ACT (both with minimal practice). The ACT is more dependent on what you learn in school and your analytical skills.

I will say however that the SAT subject tests are a great way to show proficiency in certain areas. For example, I took the SAT Chem subject test right after I took the AP Chem exam and got an 800 on it (5 on AP) since the material was all fresh in my head, and I'd been working on it for the past year. But these are typically scaled based on percentiles - that 800 is the same score around 10% of others who took the test got, while a 700 in SAT math II for example is the 50% range. This is due to the fact people are usually well versed in these subject before taking the exams, so percentile-wise they'll score higher (I missed the ball on Math II because I didn't really prepare for it).

But like others have said, take practice tests. I found that the ACT format worked better for me since it wasn't divided into 10+ sections, and I could spend actual time on dissecting the questions.

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Prior to joining the IBDP, I took the PLAN test due to the fact that it was stressed at my home school. One teacher actually bribed us to take it by offering extra credit. Anyway, I only scored a 17 on it. After dropping the IBDP, it was used against me after I was approved for open enrollment at Wooster High School. The guidance counselor and associate principal used it against me when they were transitioning courses from the IBDP. The associate principal is the "head" of the IB school up there, so if he thinks my ACT scores are that bad, then why was I even accepted to be in the IBDP? Eventually, I paid and took PSAT, however, I do not currently have my scores for that exam. After that, I just told the truth about the school by sending a letter to that school regarding my thoughts and truth. I ended up returning to my home school. Anyway, I would take the ACT only because it appears to be stressed more than the SAT, however, I would attempt to take both in the case that it would be possible. Best of luck in regards to your decisions!

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As a general rule, the ACT is a *general* test of your knowledge collected over the years and years of education that you have received. The SAT is a more *in-depth* assessment that focuses on vocabulary, grammar, writing skills, algebraic concepts, and geometric concepts. I have taken the SAT 3 times and am taking the ACT in December. Find out which one fits you better and go for it! By the way, American universities look upon the SAT and ACT in the same way, so either one is fine for college. Good luck!

Edited by klhollomon

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You can submit either ACT or SAT - most universities should accept either.

 

My advice is to choose the test you find easiest to do. It depends on your learning style, and each person learns slightly different. I personally found that ACT was easier than SAT; SAT was learning lots of vocabulary, which for me had no practical use, and avoiding tricky questions, whereas ACT was more analytical and more similar to how I learnt in my school previously. I suggest you take a diagnostic test for both, to see which one you found easiest stylistically. Ignore the score conversion - if you found one easier despite having a lower diagnostic score, you are more likely to improve on that in my opinion. This is from my experience of prepping for both tests.

 

Key observations between ACT and SAT:

  • The grammar in the SAT and ACT is essentially the same
  • SAT requires more vocabulary learning than ACT in order to score well
  • Universities definitely superscore SAT scores - this means that out of all the SAT scores you sent them, they will pick the best of each section to make the best overall score and use only that score for admission purposes. (E.g. January 2012 Critical Reading:560 Maths:590 Writing:800, May 2012 CR:790 M:540 W:700, June 2012 CR:300 M:600 W:450 --> superscore CR:790 M:600 W:800). Universities should be picking up the superscore system for ACT, but it's relatively new and the ACT system works by averaging out the section score out of 36.
  • ACT mathematics is more difficult than SAT - ACT requires more complex maths and doesn't have a formula booklet, but offers all multiple choice questions; SAT provides some formulas and easier concepts, but the latter questions aren't multiple choice.
  • By doing the SAT I (which is the SAT I have been discussing during this article), more competitive universities require approximately 2 SAT II subject tests as well. The SAT II subject tests are more like your academic subject tests, however if you do subject tests like Chemistry it requires you to have finished the whole IB Chemistry HL syllabus. You will have to do lots of self-studying.
  • There are two types of ACT: ACT, and ACT with Writing. The Writing portion an extra 30 mins to the ACT test where you write an essay (similar to the SAT essay), and if you submit the ACT + Writing you DO NOT need to submit any SAT II subject tests. (Most universities say this.) If you just take the ACT, the subject tests are still required for competitive universities.
  • Score choice for SAT is to choose which scores you send to universities. (For example, I took testing dates May 2012 and June 2012, and I have the option to only send May 2012 if the university doesn't require to see all my testing scores. Do check each university's testing requirements.) You can sort of do this with ACT in that you choose which specific testing date (e.g. August 2012), but you cannot pick which section of the ACT you send off (e.g. you can't just send the Science portion of your Oct 2012 ACT test).
ACT Pointers (since I took the ACT test):
  • The sciences require minimal scientific content; it is more based on analysis and interpretation of results and graphs.
  • If you have a GDC (and you should!), USE IT.
  • While it is good practice to complete the multiple choice questions without looking at the MC answers, use the answers to 'work backwards' and see if it is the correct one. (Particularly for maths.) You don't have much time!
  • Essay: write both for and against, and provide different points of view in your argument, for example the POVs of parents, teachers, high school faculty, high school students.
  • English: You do not need to have read the texts mentioned in order to score well. (I quite honestly read none of them, and I did well.)

Let me know if you have anymore questions!

 

EDIT: Do not spend your IB life preparing for these tests! Because you want to apply to the US (I assume), American universities look at you as the student holistically. (All of the American universities I visited said this.) This means it isn't just your grades that matter (but they do have a LARGE chunk in whether you're admitted or not), but your outside activities and interests. As my SAT prep teacher said: "Get a life." Or at least try to.

 


I want to take the ACT + writing so When should I start practising as I am a sophomore and will soon get onto the IB..would summer be a good time....plus I didnt really get the essay part of the ACT, so can you please elaborate more on that.

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I would actually recommend taking the SAT unless you want to spend countless hours studying for the ACT. The SAT, while outdated, pointless, old-fashioned, and a poor indicator of actual intelligence, is much easier to excel on with minimal studying. Personally, I took both tests, and a couple of SAT IIs as well, and I found the SAT, while more of a hassle, to be an easier test. For neither test did I do any studying, and I scored 2260 on the SAT and 34 on the ACT. My SAT score is technically lower, however, I did have appendicitis on the day that I took it and scored very poorly on the essay. I scored an 800 in maths, a 760 in reading, and a 700 in writing (despite getting no multiple choice questions wrong). On the other hand, my ACT, again without studying, was a 36, 36, 36, with a 28 in science. My point is this: the science on the ACT is brutal if you aren't prepped for it. The ACT tests what you know, the SAT tests how well you take the SAT. Given that you're doing IB, I'd suggest going with the path of least resistance, as the SAT takes much less studying and is much more logic based than knowledge based. Also, ACT math is brutal because they barely give you enough time and it's very tough to finish. 

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Guest iBinbar

Anyone taking these tests in 2016 or 2017 should NOT take the SAT it is new and untested and incredibly difficult to study for because there is not a large pool of previous tests that you can find to study from. By taking the new SAT you are putting yourself in the hands of an untested test and are crippling your ability to study. 

On an additional note you should probably do the writing on either of the two tests as it is often required to be considered at a number of schools.

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1 hour ago, In terminal ass as mint said:

That moment when everyone is recommending ACT but I already took the SAT and three subject tests...

Same here. But the maths in ACT is pretty hard tbh (tho probably cuz my maths really suck), I don't regret all that much taking SAT. Although this means I'll have to take 2x subject tests, but idk, the diagnostic questions I've taken for them just aren't that difficult -- still pretty tricky though. 

Edited by IB`ez

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10 hours ago, IB`ez said:

Same here. But the maths in ACT is pretty hard tbh (tho probably cuz my maths really suck), I don't regret all that much taking SAT. Although this means I'll have to take 2x subject tests, but idk, the diagnostic questions I've taken for them just aren't that difficult -- still pretty tricky though. 

I found the Math II subject test really difficult. I had to learn a lot of the material on my own. I'm not sure though, I'll have to see once my scores come out in October 27th. I'm also doing a second SAT in November which I'll need to practice for a lot to get a higher score. I can't really speak for the ACT, it just surprised me everyone prefers it over the SAT, which makes me wonder if I could get a higher score simply by studying for the ACT in the first place

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