Bam! Pow! Kick! Choke! Wedgie!
Okay okay, let’s all calm down. The contest between the SAT and ACT is nothing more dramatic than a choice between two equally regarded standardized tests. That’s right, ever since the advent of online applications and integrated conversion tables, the SAT and ACT have become virtually interchangeable as far as admissions evaluations go.
So why all the hysteria?
Because the college process makespeople act like ding-a-lings. Think about it. If you were asked to choose between most things—pancakes or waffles, grande or venti, Family Guy or The Simpsons—you would weigh the necessary facts, make your choice and move on. (Family Guy.)
But when it comes to the SAT and ACT, students and parents get paralyzed by indecisiveness and then try to remedy that by studying for both tests at the same time. Three months of this ”dual prep” as some like to call it, along with a full course load and mounting AP exams, and you will be completely bald and shaking like a wet poodle from all the stress. Not to mention your scores will often be nothing more than an unimpressive tally of your growing exhaustion and apathy. Not pretty.
True. The stakes are high— which necessitates that students contemplate all options as they continue moving through the process. But there is no time or space to do this during junior year. At Blue Train we understand this and work with the students to assess both exams and commit to one before they start prepping. Sometimes it is more complex than simply comparing practice scores and enumerating the test differences. Rather, it becomes about recognizing test-taking patterns (anxiety markers, error walls, etc.) and deciphering which exam will offer the student his or her greatest yield. Either way, at Blue Train once a student picks his or her test, it is full steam ahead straight until summer.
Switching tests? Decide during the summer.
Once we have all the information, we along with the student can determine whether a track switch would prove beneficial. In most cases students will continue the way they were going, climbing their score into the fall.
In other instances, we will isolate stubborn sticking points, realize corrective measures need to be taken, and implement something called “gap tutoring.” Gap tutoring allows the student to switch tests with a minimal investment of time, energy, and money. By building off the test commonalities and moving students quickly into a performance stage during the free space of summer, we see little to no burnout and through-the-roof score improvements in the fall.
A final word
Yes, the tests are different, the specifics of which are not the point of this post. The point is more so to call attention to the ding-a-ling madness that seems to sweep across American high schools during the spring. Don’t buy into it. Whether you take the SAT, the ACT, or ultimately both exams, please remember that it should not be a battle that rages within you, nor should it be a “dual prep to cover all bases hot mess.”
If you are in doubt and need help deciphering which track you should head down before the summer, simply contact us and we will get you chugging in the right direction. Sane, strong and smiling. Choo choo!