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College Admissions: 6 Reasons Schools Should Offer the Pre-ACT

Monday, February 17, 2014


Here in the Northeast, we have a long history with the College Board and the SAT. In fact, it has become entrenched in our school systems. Nearly every high school in New England administers the pre-SAT or PSAT in the fall of 11th grade for college bound students. Many also offer it in 10th grade. However, few public or private schools offer the pre-ACT or PLAN/ASPIRE* test. What parents who sit on school boards and PTOs need to understand is that in ignoring this important test, we are doing students a disservice. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. As of 2012, the ACT surpassed the SAT as the nation’s most popular college entrance exam- It may be hard to believe, but today, more students in the U.S. take the ACT than the SAT. In 2012: 1,666,017 took the ACT and 1,664,479 took the SAT, and every 4 year college in the U.S accepts it.

2. Test choice gives all students an advantage- In allowing students to try both the PLAN/ASPIRE and PSAT, we enable learners to determine which test is a better match for their skills and testing style. This then allows students to focus their test prep on one test and maximize their scores, ultimately resulting in more college choices, opportunities for merit aid and honors programs.

3. The ACT is based on coursework-Although the Collegeboard has been moving to align the SAT more with school curricula and less with aptitude tests, the ACT has always been based on courses found in high school. This means fewer tricks and complicated strategies to learn before taking the exam. There is also less vocabulary, higher level math, and a science reasoning section, which can benefit some students.

4. No deductions for wrong answers-Simply stated, the SAT penalizes students for wrong answers, the ACT does not. This often helps students feel more confident about guessing, even if they can’t narrow it down to two or three possibilities.

5. Earlier fall test dates-While the SAT begins their fall testing season in October, the ACT offers its first test in September, with a second test date in October. This can prove advantageous for students who want to squeeze in two tests before early action/decision deadlines in November.

6. Avoid SAT II Subject Tests-Many elite colleges require or recommend SAT II Subject Tests, from the Ivy League to Boston College, Williams, Tufts and Duke. This means yet another round of tests for students already burdened with school exams, state boards, SAT/ACTs and AP tests. However, if you read the fine print on individual college websites, you will find that many SAT II colleges will accept the ACT in place of both the SAT I and SAT II Subject Tests.

Our goal as educators and parents should be to give children options, rather than one path to success. Providing both the PLAN/ASPIRE and PSAT is one way to do that. For more information on the ACT and how to get the ACT tests administered in your school, go to www.act.org.

**As of the 2014-2015 school year, the PLAN test will be rolled into the new ASPIRE program.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com .


Related Slideshow: New England Colleges With the Best Undergraduate Teaching

U.S. News & World Report released a survey conducted in 2013 of college administrators on the best schools for undergraduate teaching. Several New England made their lists for best National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, and Regional Universities. See which schools made the lists in the slides below: 

Prev Next

National Universities

9. Brown University

Providence, RI 
Students: 6,435
2013-14 Tuition: $45,612
Admissions: 9.6% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

National Universities

5. Yale University 

New Haven, CT
Students: 5,405
2013-14 Tuition: $44,000
Admissions: 7.0% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

National Universities

1. Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH
Students: 4,193
2013-14 Tuition: $46,752
Admissions: 9.8% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

National Liberal Arts Col

18. Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, MA 
Students: 2,322
2013-14 Tuition: $41,456
Admissions: 42.1% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

Liberal Arts Colleges

9. Amherst College

Amherst, MA
Students: 1,817 
2013-14 Tuition: $46,574
Admissions: 13.0% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

Liberal Arts Colleges

5. Williams College

Williamstown, MA
Students: 2,052
2013-14 Tuition: $46,600
Admissions: 17.0% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

Regional Univ. - North

4. Fairfield University

Fairfield, CT
Students: 3,879
2013-14 Tuition: $42,920
Admissions: 71.2% Acceptance Rate
Prev Next

Regional Univ. - North

2. Providence College

Providence, RI
Students: 3,810
2013-14 Tuition: $42,206
Admissions: 61.0%

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