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By now you should know the SAT and ACT are a pretty big deal when it comes to applying for schools and scholarships. The tests are designed to measure what you learned in high school in order to determine your academic readiness for college.

There is no right or wrong test to take. Typically, colleges accept either option for admission. The decision of which test to take usually depends on your personal preference or where you live. While the tests are similar, there are some key differences:

Scoring

The SAT changed its scoring scale in March 2016. According to their website, the new scoring system “helps colleges form a clearer picture of you and your readiness for college.” The new scoring system doesn’t penalize you for incorrect answers and includes more sub scores and cross-test scores.

The ACT enhanced their scoring reports in September 2016.  The new enhanced score report aims to help students get the most from their test results. According to their website, the new enhancements make the score report easier to read and understand where key improvements need to be made.  It also includes an interest-major fit, that allows students to see if their interests are similar to those of college students who actually chose the major they are considering.

Writing/Essay

Both tests offer the option for an essay portion, but it is not required in order to take the test. Prior to January 2016 the SAT essay portion was required to take the test. However, some schools recommend or require the SAT essay in order to gain admission. To find out what schools require it click here.

While opting out of the writing portion can sound appealing, practice makes perfect. Taking the writing portion allows you to get the feel of your writing strengths and abilities on a collegiate level.

Cost

The cost to take the ACT without writing is $42.50, with writing is $58.50. The cost to take the SAT is $45 without the essay and $57 with the essay. Fee waivers for the ACT and SAT are also available for eligible students. In addition, if you receive a fee waiver for either test additional benefits are available.

For the SAT you also receive four waivers to cover up to four college application fees at select schools. For the ACT you gain free access to test prep tools and the option to apply for a waiver that will cover a college admission application fee.

No matter which test you choose to take, it is important to send your scores to the top schools of your choice. Even if you haven’t applied to the school yet, they will keep your score on file.

Now that we’ve covered the basics get ready to sign up and study hard!