As many upperclassmen are well aware of, your Junior year of high school is the most stressful yet. During this nerve-wrecking time, there is an important choice that must be made: Will you take the SAT or ACT? Students have more often than not despised these mandatory, anxiety-causing standardized tests because of their importance in the college admissions process. However, a recent report broadcasted on CNN by Frank Bruni suggests otherwise. Bruni spoke of how the top administrators of some colleges are planning to make changes in the admission process. He described many universities as already becoming “test optional” schools, where SAT and ACT score reports are not mandatory. Colleges, Bruni believes, are trying to lead the students astray from the typicality of trying to take as many AP classes as they can and spending countless hours studying for the SAT and ACT. Colleges have announced that they would rather see commitment to genuine passions throughout high school than a 5.0 GPA or a perfect test score.
Although some colleges are choosing to opt out of these standardized tests, most four-year universities still require them. In the past, there was an equal divide of students taking both the SAT and ACT, and some students would choose to take both. However, a new SAT test came out this year, and college counselors are suggesting that the ACT is the way to go, because there is only so much any given tutor or teacher can possibly know about such a new test. Mr. Moss, one of Milken’s college counselors, says, “We have recommended that juniors sit for the ACT because there are not any significant changes to this exam. Tutors and test prep companies know exactly how to prepare students for the ACT. The College Board, which oversees the SAT, has only released a limited number of sample tests/questions for the new SAT which comes out in March, thus limiting the effectiveness of test prep materials, courses, and private tutoring. If juniors are not comfortable with the format of the ACT then they should prepare for the new SAT. We do not recommend that juniors prep for both exams because this will likely spread them too thin.”
Students will see many differences in the new SAT, which is one of the reasons why the college counselors recommend taking the ACT. These changes include no penalties for wrong answers, which encourages students to take more educated guesses, and alleviates the stress of getting points deducted for a wrong answer. There are also less obscure vocabulary words in the English section of the test, which benefits students because they do not have to spend hours studying flashcards of vocabulary words. These changes should take a lot of the standardized testing pressure off of many students.
With both beneficial changes of the revamped SAT and many colleges announcing that standardized testing is not as big of a deal as it used to be, it seems that high school students should have less stress in this college application process.