ACT & SAT Scores Equally Important for College Admissions

Posted on June 4, 2010 | Filed in Admissions, SAT

Do you ever wonder which is more important to high school seniors: the ACT or SAT? It appears they are both equally important as some admissions offices even consider both tests to be cut-off points for a certain percentage of students.

According to the New York Times, there was a report published through the National Association of College Admission Counseling, where researchers asked 250 colleges whether they used either the SAT or ACT as a cut-off for admission. Of those who participated in the report and accepted the SAT, 1 in 5 said they used certain scores as a “threshold” for admission. Those who claimed to use the ACT for admission purposes used 1 in 4 said they used a similar cut-off, too.

There is good news, though, for students not in the top percentile of both tests. According to the study, three-quarters of the colleges report using scores “holistically.” What does that mean? Typically, that means the tests are just one factor out of many in how a candidate is evaluated. After-school activities, recommendations, GPA and their curriculums are taken into consideration, as well. Also, according to the study, “strength of curriculum” and “grades in college prep courses” appear to matter most when reviewing a candidate.

The colleges and universities that said they use SAT and ACT grades as cut-offs chose not to disclose their names. However, the New York Times claims that using SAT and ACT grades as cut-off points might be at odds with the highly venerated “Principles of Good Practice,” which states they “cannot use test scores as the sole criterion for admission.”

In essence, what’s the difference between the SAT and ACT? Here are some quick facts about both tests that might give light to any confusion.

SAT: Originally, the SAT was designed to democratize admissions and has been around for more than 80 years. In 1999, the SAT was more popular amongst test-takers by about 10%, but now both the SAT and ACT are even.

ACT: The ACT was created more recently than the SAT and was initially aimed at measuring classroom achievement rather than internal ability. For a number of years the test was only popular in the Midwest and states in the surrounding area, but has branched out nationwide as of late.

Looking to take the SAT or ACT in the near future? Contact Manhattan Review to find yourself a tutor right away!

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