Do Colleges Prefer SAT or ACT Scores?

The SAT or ACT? Which one should I take? Do colleges prefer SAT or ACT scores? Again, we’re asked these questions, a lot.

Do colleges prefer SAT or ACT scores? Really, which one do they want more? Don’t worry, we’re here to answer those questions here.

For further reference, here’s how to break down SAT scores vs ACT scores.

There’s Really No Preference

The idea is that colleges prefer the SAT over the ACT is a myth.

All colleges and universities which require standardized testing accept both tests without hesitation. More importantly, college admissions officials often stated they have no personal preference for one test versus the other.

However, there is the argument that because more accepted students submit SAT versus ACT scores, there may be an unintentional bias at times. However, publicly, colleges and universities don’t care either way.

A common reason that The SAT is seen as more influential is that it has been around longer. The SAT was created in 1926, whereas the ACT has been accepted since its introduction in 1959.

A more important factor that could affect test acceptance is location. For example, the SAT is usually taken more on the east coast.

Potential Location Bias

The only possible bias one can see with SAT or ACT acceptance is the school location.

The particular region that specific schools are in may make a difference. For example, according to College Navigator, 83 percent of admitted Harvard students submitted SAT scores to the score. Compare that number with only 35 percent submitting ACT scores.

At Stanford, 86 percent of admitted students submitted SAT scores versus 39 percent for the ACT. However, the Midwest shows a different trend.

66 percent of admitted University of Chicago students submitted SAT scores, but 53 percent submitted ACT scores instead. Northwestern University also found a similar distribution between both tests in their admitted students.

Given that students are usually likely to go to schools within 150-200 miles from home, it makes sense that they’ll take the test that appears to have more favor in different areas than others.”

Which One Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the choice should boil down to your personal preference.

It makes more sense to take the test that suits you better academically, in order to gain the highest possible score value. Also, consider differences like:

  • The ACT including a Science section versus the SAT not having one
  • The SAT’s No Calculator section versus the ACT allowing a calculator for every Math question
  • The ACT allowing less time to answer questions versus the SAT

Sit down, look over both test formats, do your research, and take practice tests. Take the test that you feel provides a better chance of getting you into your dream school.

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