The ACT/SAT Test Choice Process​

An experienced, talented, extremely clever tutor (me; it was me) once compared the ACT and the SAT to Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans: they’re similar enough to be confusing but different in several key ways, and, despite what your AP English teacher thinks, they’re not interchangeable. Those crucial differences and that common confusion are what led us create the PathFinder Diagnostic. The PathFinder combines the most distinctive features of both the ACT and the SAT into a single assessment designed to guide the test selection process. Our test experts can look at a student’s results and give a firm test recommendation, allowing students to take a single diagnostic and get a clear picture of which test is better for them.

How that recommendation process works is a common object of curiosity among our clients. We’ll often have students come in, take the PathFinder, and score higher on the SAT or ACT half, only to have us recommend that they prep for the test on which their scores were slightly weaker. What’s the thought process behind that? Is our “team of test experts” actually just several chimpanzees that we’ve trained to flip coins?

No, it’s not, although that would be pretty awesome. In actuality, the test recommendation is based on a combination of those key differences between the SAT and the ACT that I mentioned earlier and the student’s answer patterns, seasoned with our decades of experience tutoring both tests.

Those factors allow us to sort students into several different categories, or ‘tester-types’. Are you an ACT-2? You may have scored higher on the SAT half of the PathFinder, but you were able to finish all ACT sections within the time limit; because the pacing of the ACT is the primary challenge for most students, you likely have plenty of room to improve, and we can help you hit your score ceiling.

Or maybe you’re an SAT-1. In that case, you scored significantly better on the SAT half of the AgDi and/or your Math score was noticeably better than your Verbal score. Because improving on the Verbal half of the test requires less content knowledge and is therefore often easier, and because math performance represents half of your composite score on the SAT compared to only a quarter on the ACT, you’re probably better off taking the SAT.

If you already know which test you want to take, congratulations: you’re ahead of the game, and we’ll happily work with you to maximize your score the ACT or on the SAT that particular test. If you’re still in the process of figuring it out, don’t make the mistake of thinking that which test you prep for doesn’t matter, and definitely don’t waste your weekend carving out time to take two full practice tests just so that you can compare the results. Let us get you started on the right track as efficiently as possible so that you can spend your time on what’s really important: browsing Redd…I mean getting a head start on studying for your final exams.

Related SAT & ACT Resources: