In recent years, the ACT — an alternative to the SAT — has become more popular and widely accepted as a college entry exam. Some students who perform poorly on the SAT find success on the ACT. Johnson says that nearly half of the students that come to Prep Matters now take the ACT, at least just to see how they do. “It’s a more straight-forward test,” he says, “and some people think, maybe, that there’s not as much trickery.” The ACT isn’t as long as the SAT and includes fewer sections, so it’s potentially less stressful for some students.
A few years back, college admissions offices started taking the ACT more seriously as a substitute for the SAT. But the SAT isn’t the same as it used to be, either. Two years ago, the College Board revamped the reading comprehension questions and added a writing section. But Johnson fears the writing section may only serve to lengthen the test. He takes the exam himself, whenever possible, and admits that even he has trouble completing the timed essays — which always appear first on the exam. “If people aren’t happy with their essay at the beginning,” he says, “it can rattle a student for the rest of the test.” (Continue reading)