Making the Shift: ACT to SAT

Making the Shift: ACT to SAT

Louisa Hall

Get ready West Ottawa, you’re not as prepared as you think. The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is back, making its yearly appearance April 11. Current juniors are probably experiencing some mixed reactions as the test day nears. The class of 2018 were used to American College Test (ACT) prep most of their school life, and have had to switch to SAT prep to be ready for the spring. Some students are feeling unprepared while others are feeling very assured, doing everything they can to get ready. Take a hint, juniors, you should be practicing now.

Who is most affected by the switch?

   Most juniors took the ACT Explore tests in 7th and 8th grade; a few students even took the ACT as practice. Some middle school teachers would even take 10 minutes out of every day to go over possible questions that may appear on the ACT. When the state announced the decision to switch to the SAT in early 2015, which would take effect in 2016, all current juniors were freshmen. There is still a concern for the 2018 class but in terms of time, they had all of the last year and this year to prepare for the SAT. If their time is spent well, they all have the possibility to affect their scores greatly by practicing.

   Juniors should be taking all the opportunities to prepare themselves. Jr. Madison Wollenzier has taken both the ACT and SAT in previous years, and isn’t wasting any time to be ready for the spring testing. “Monday through Friday, I do 45 minutes of prep a day using Khan Academy,” Wollenzier said. Wollenzier doesn’t really like using Khan Academy, however. “The explanations for the wrong answers are somewhat helpful but confusing at the same time,” Wollenzier said. Besides using Khan Academy, she uses PSAT practice booklets.

   The seniors had very similar ACT prep to the juniors that continued through part of their freshmen and sophomore years. During their sophomore year, the state switched to the SAT. The seniors had about a month, after the start of the 2016 school year, to be ready for the fall PSAT. They had a semester and a half to be ready for the spring SAT as they were the first class to take it. The students were adjusting to the new system alongside the staff.  Seniors had to do more researching and prepping on their own then using what resources the school might have provided, as the school was still looking for options.

   Many seniors weren’t feeling it. “I was salty and angry. The SAT was harder than the ACT,” Sr. Tylar West said. West had previously taken the ACT.  “We’ve been practicing for the ACT for years, so I felt like it was pointless [to switch tests].” West isn’t alone. “I felt really unprepared,” Sr. Nabil Gutierrez said. Learn from the upperclassmen, you should be preparing yourself for the test.

What’s the difference?

   The ACT and SAT used to be very different tests. The ACT was more knowledge based, and one’s score basically determined what one knows. The SAT was more reasoning based, using the information provided to give the most logical answer in a scenario. Over the years the tests have been revised and have become very similar.

   Instructor Christopher Norton was an ACT/SAT/ASVAB tutor after graduating college. He is very familiar with these tests. “They are two tests that are similar in format, but both require preparation for success, I don’t think one is more difficult than the other. I know that they both require certain areas of focus for instruction and practice and so the change from one focus of instruction to a different one will make it seem as if the SAT is more difficult, but change is always fraught with challenges,” Norton said.  “I see them as differing in their areas of focus and assessments on college readiness and skills.”  Norton believes that practice is a good idea, “Any method of preparation that has direct instruction that is geared to preparing for the test will be useful, but like any tool, it is a matter of how it is used or not used that will impact the outcome,” he said.

   Nonetheless, there are differences, and they may be enough to affect test scores.The good thing is if one is concerned how the switch of tests will affect test scores, there is still the opportunity to take both tests. There are plenty of resources that can give practices to be prepared for the upcoming spring test, so don’t waste time and get ready!