Some Benefits of the ACT with Writing
by Dr. Trama - Thursday, June 7th, 2012 College Preparation & Planning

When many college applicants think about the best schools in the country, they think of schools like Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale, Duke, Stanford, and MIT.  When these schools think about the best college applicants, they think of standardized test scores.   While student transcripts are the most important part of a college application, standardized test scores serve as sort of truth test for competitive colleges, who need to find which transcripts are worth considering.  Applicants who are excellent test-takers – who can earn SAT scores in the 730s on Verbal, Writing, and Math sections, and in the 740s on their SAT Subject Tests – will surely have their transcripts respectfully considered at most of the elite schools listed above.

Is that all there is to say on the subject of standardized tests and your college dreams?  No.  Thankfully, there’s another standardized test that most colleges will accept instead of the SAT.  This alternative test is the ACT, and it scores test-takers in subject areas that they have been studying for years as part of their full high school curriculum.  The  full ACT tests academic development in English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing.  Though less well known, the ACT with Writing is no less respected than the SAT I.  In fact, most colleges will choose to consider your application with respect to the better of your two test results.

Most applicants benefit from exploring the ACT as a way of counterbalancing their SAT scores, particularly in the area of Writing.

  • The ACT Writing test has less variables than its SAT equivalent.  With a little preparation, you’ll never come across an ACT essay prompt that you can’t answer simply because you don’t know what it’s talking about.
  • Another quality of note with respect to the ACT is that the duration of the test is significantly less than the four sustained hours asked of you by the SAT.
  • If you’re coming to the conclusion that the ACT is a more honest and humane test than the ACT, you might be right.  Consider that the ACT, unlike the SAT, does not penalize test-takers for guessing.  On the ACT, you don’t have to deliberate over which questions need to be left blank.

So, back to Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale, Duke, Stanford, and MIT—which of these schools will take an ACT with Writing in place of an SAT test?  All of them!  Maybe your dream school isn’t on that list, nevertheless it’s still very likely that your school will take your ACT score.  You just have to take the test first.  There’s little to lose and a lot to gain by taking the ACT with Writing.

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