Blog postings

Below are some thoughts on topics that students and parents often ask. Before making a decision you should consult various resources (teachers, tutors, guidance counselors, college counselors, college admissions offices, etc.) as appropriate. The topics and my opinions about them are generic, and may not apply very well to your specific situation.

Is the ACT or SAT a better test for me?

Most students understand that they will have to prepare to take a standardized test, but have difficulty deciding which test to focus on.  The best way to decide is to try a practice ACT and a practice SAT.  Ideally, your practice tests should be taken within a month or two of each other.

Practice tests can be taken at home for free.  The ACT web site posts a pdf of a practice test that you can take but the link can be difficult to find because most of the web site talks about preparation services that they offer.  Currently, the link is .  The College Board web site posts 8 practice tests, and you should take one of them.  Their link is easier to find, and it currently is .  Download and print a practice test for each, and take them using the time limits specified.  Then follow the instructions for scoring each of them.

Practice tests can also be taken at a private tutoring company.  Many tutoring companies offer proctored tests, either for free or a small fee.  The tutoring companies offer these as a way of getting people in the door.  They are going to follow up with you to try to sell their classes or tutoring services but this is something that you can decline or pursue.  It is more convenient to take practice tests at a tutoring company because you are in a room with other students all taking the same timed test.  Also, the tutoring company will score the tests for you and email a report.

Whether you take the practice tests at home or go to a tutoring center, make sure that you are using official practice tests.  If you are thinking about going to a tutoring company that writes their own practice tests, try to find someplace else.  Also, do not download practice tests from some random web site to take at home.  And do not use a practice test from a book published by a third-party company, like Princeton Review, Kaplan, or Barron’s.

Once you have the scores for each practice test, you have to compare them. See my blog, “How to compare ACT and SAT scores” to find out how to do that.

Richard Corn