Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Majority of Students May Be Taking the SAT® Instead of the ACT® for the Wrong Reasons

Press Contacts: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews@KaplanSATACT

New York, NY (November 6, 2014) — A Kaplan survey of SAT takers* about college admissions test preference reveals a surprising fact: a third of these students decided to take the SAT instead of its alternative, the ACT, because of a widely held misconception: 33% of survey respondents believed that the SAT is more widely accepted by colleges than the ACT.  In fact, all U.S. colleges accept both tests equally. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (24%) of students said they took the SAT instead of the ACT because their friends and classmates took it or are planning to take it. Just 16% said that they decided to take the SAT instead of the ACT because they had actually taken practice tests for both tests and had performed better on the SAT. Other reasons for taking the College Board test: because their parents advised it (11%); because they think submitting an SAT score instead of an ACT score gives students an advantage (8%) (another misconception, as admissions officers have no preference for one exam over the other); because their guidance counselor advised them to do so (5%); and because the SAT testing site was more convenient (3%).

Over 1.8 million class of 2014 graduates took the ACT, compared to 1.7 million who took the SAT. The number of ACT takers has been higher than the number of SAT takers since 2012.

“While we recognize that many factors go into a student’s decision about which exam they ultimately take for college admissions, it’s notable that the majority of students’ biggest reasons for taking the SAT instead of the ACT are because of misconceptions, cultural norms, or the well-meaning advice of others,” said Kate Hurley, SAT and ACT programs manager, Kaplan Test Prep. “At Kaplan we believe that if you’re planning to take only one of the two tests, the best strategy is to take practice tests for the SAT and the ACT, see which one you score higher on, and then focus on that one.”

To help students decide for themselves which test will help them the most to get into college,  Kaplan Test Prep will holds its free National Practice Day on Saturday, November 15 at locations around the country as well as live, online. Students who attend the event on site will take a combo SAT and ACT test, featuring realistic practice questions, that will help familiarize them with the content. In addition to the free practice, each participant will receive a personalized detailed performance analysis. This will give students an idea of which exam they should prep for and take — though many students ultimately decide to sit for both exams and submit scores for both.Students may also choose to take an SAT or ACT practice test online and receive detailed score reports of their performance.

Differences between the exams include:

  • Length: The SAT is 3 hours, 45 minutes; the ACT is 3 hours and 25 minutes (including the optional Writing Test, which Kaplan encourages students to take.)
  • Sections: The SAT includes a Critical Reading, Math and Writing section; the ACT includes an English, Reading, Math and Science Test.
  • Scoring: The SAT is scored on a 600-2400 scale; the ACT is scored on a 1-36 scale. On the SAT, ¼ point is subtracted from your raw score for each wrong answer (except for Math Grid-Ins); on the ACT, there is no wrong answer penalty.

To register for Kaplan’s free national practice event or for more information, please call 1-800-KAPTEST or visit www.kaptest.com/whichtest.

*From a Kaplan e-survey conducted in October 2014 of 209 students from across the United States, who took a Kaplan SAT course .

SAT® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product. ACT® is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc,  which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com)  is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses.  Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services. Additionally, Kaplan operates new economy skills training (NEST) bootcamps designed to provide immersive training in skills that are in high demand in today’s job market and prepare participants for hire.

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