ACT or SAT?

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ACT:

 

Since the dawn of time, there have been arguments around personal preference. Dogs or cats? Pineapple on pizza? SAT or ACT? Let me tell you what I think: Dogs are better than cats, pineapple is an acceptable pizza topping, and the ACT is far better than the SAT.

The first way that the ACT beats out its rival is design. The ACT is more speed-oriented; both tests take the same amount of time, despite the ACT having one more section than the SAT. Because there is less time for each section, problems need to be easy to understand. On the math sections of the SAT, there are questions designed to be too difficult for all but the most capable students. These questions are designed to trick the participant. Why is that necessary?

Good news! The ACT has a science section! This means that there is no extra cost to prove your science skills. Even better news! The ACT’s science section is accessible to anyone; it tests comprehension of graphs and charts, not knowledge about a scientific subject. On the SAT II tests, if your teacher never taught you about something and it’s on the test, you’re done, and that’s no fun for anybody.

Finally, there’s the essay. On the SAT, the essay requires that you read over an article written by somebody else and defend their point of view. Well, not really. That would be too easy. Instead, you need to prove that their argument is sound by complimenting their structure, their vocabulary, and how it makes you feel. Most students have never been asked to write like that before. On the ACT, you are asked to defend a position on a certain issue and point out the problems of opposing arguments. Notice how I make an argument and defend my position like I would on the ACT. The ACT tests a real, usable life skill, which is more than I can say about the SAT.

 

SAT:

 

Let me start by saying, pineapple is not an acceptable pizza topping and the SAT is definitely superior to the ACT.

The SAT is not designed to test a student’s ability to answer familiar questions in a short amount of time, unlike the ACT. It focuses on more difficult questions that a student wouldn’t be presented in a normal class setting. Therefore, instead of testing your training, it tests your ability to think on your feet, your ability to problem solve. According to Forbes, problem-solving is one of the top ten most desirable skills for an employee to have; being able to solve a basic math problem quickly isn’t even on the list! The SAT is testing your potential to be a problem solver, to be a contributor to society; it is designed to differentiate creative thinkers from those who can’t figure out problems they’ve never seen before. It’s not a test of speed, it’s a test of your abilities. If you get tricked, well, the test has done its job.

The lack of science section on the SAT, in my opinion, is a pro. There are a few questions about graphs and data thrown into the math section, so it does test the same skills as the ACT but without the lengthy readings in their Science section. Who wants to do more reading on a standardized test? Not me.

The SAT essay is one of the easiest essays you’ll ever have to write. Especially early in the morning on test day, it’s a lot to think about writing a thesis and defending your position, as the ACT asks. The SAT gives you your thesis. You’re asked to explain why the author of an article makes a good argument by analyzing their word choice, use of evidence, and logic. It’s all laid out for you. They’re testing your understanding of what makes a good essay, not your ability to write a good essay. Most people are taught how to write an essay by copying the basic structure. A good writer, however, understands that there’s more to writing an essay than arranging your argument correctly. The SAT asks for understanding the components of persuasive writing, not understanding of the five-paragraph essay.

I can make an argument and defend my position in this article because I know how to be persuasive. Notice how I incorporate outside sources, relevant vocabulary, and logic to make my argument. Case closed. SAT wins.

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ACT or SAT?