What most college counselors do not know about the SAT v. ACTBy Daryl CapuanoCollege Advice
“Should my child take the SAT or the ACT?”
I am asked the question a great deal. My advice will not be generic. All that matters to me is the student and family before me. So, there will not be a magical blanket answer for everyone. Anyone who gives one has not taken the time to listen to your situation. I listen first and then advise.
While I generally have a great deal of respect for the college and guidance counselors that I know in Connecticut, I get bothered when some provide advice about standardized tests. Most haven’t even looked at the tests in years and since most are a bit older most do not know much about the ACT.
For that reason, students will hear a few half-truths about the test.
“My counselor said the ACT was easier so I should take that test.”
This is partially true but not in the part that matters. The ACT has easier questions than the SAT. So, the test-taker will think she is better at the ACT. That’s the true part.
But, both the SAT and ACT are curved. So, in the only area that matters – the score – the ease of the test is not particularly relevant because the test is easier for everyone.
That the SAT and ACT are curved seems to be a point that has never been considered by many college counselors.
Curved tests that are easy are not necessarily a good thing for students from Connecticut because we have such a strong school system. The harder the test, generally speaking, the better Connecticut students should do nationally.
With that said, there are many nuances and subtleties that do matter. When I provide advice to students on this issue, I first need to learn about the student. Otherwise, I’ll run the risk of giving unhelpful generic advice.