Is SAT Becoming More Like The ACT?

Career College Central summary:

  • The nation’s two dominant college admissions tests, the SAT and ACT, have always sought to distinguish themselves from each other. Now they may be converging in some key ways. The SAT, begun in 1926, is rooted in a tradition of assessing how students think regardless of what curriculum they have studied. After all, no one takes a class called “verbal.” That was the longtime name of the section of the SAT that covered language skills. It was changed in 2005 and renamed “critical reading.”
  • The ACT was launched in 1959 as an alternative focusing on student achievement in certain subjects. The four required sections on the ACT are English, mathematics, reading and science. They are still very different. But the College Board’s announcement Wednesday of revisions to the SAT to take effect in 2016 included some changes that make the older test like the younger.
  • First, the SAT will drop its requirement for students to write an essay. The SAT essay will be optional. The ACT’s essay is optional. Second, the required portions of the SAT will take 3 hours. That is 45 minutes shorter than the current requirement. The required portions of the ACT take 2 hours and 55 minutes. Third, the SAT will drop a scoring penalty for wrong answers that is meant to deter guessing. The ACT has no scoring penalty for wrong answers.
  • Those are all technical points, but they are not unimportant. Colleges have made clear that they don’t care which test students take. College guidance experts in the District of Columbia say the ACT in recent years has gained customers because of its format.

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