SATs and ACTs


Julia Wheeler, Staff Writer

The SAT and ACT are two tests used to determine students’ readiness for college all over the world. The ACT was created to measure how much material a student has already learned, and the SAT is used to test more of what a student is able to learn. Material on the ACT is all on what a student should have learned in their academic career up to that point; while the SAT may have questions that a student may not have known, it tests their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. These tests are great tools, specifically for colleges, to see which students will fit the best in their school environment. Schools tend to prefer students with higher scores, which seems to suggest that they are more learned or capable of learning.

The SAT and ACTs have significantly changed over the years to what they are today. The SAT was created in 1926, originally crafted to test the IQ of army recruits (the Army Alpha test). The SAT eventually used this same idea in the case of testing college applicants. In 1959, the ACT was created as competition for the SAT test. It was seen as more fair than the SAT because it tested learned content instead of critical thinking skills. Over time, the SAT and ACT have developed to be more similar and to test new subjects. For example, the SAT was split into two sections (verbal and quantitative analysis) to test skills more precisely. Also, in 2005, an essay was added to the SAT to ensure students understood how to write effectively and clearly.

Some recent changes in the ACT include allowing students to retake certain sections of the test (as opposed to the entire thing) and the offering of computer-based versions in addition to paper copies. Changes such as these make it easier for students to be more fairly judged while also giving colleges more information about the student.

So why do we still use these tests in 2022? Well, many colleges and universities are now making their applications test optional as many people are beginning to realize that test scores don’t always accurately reflect a student’s intelligence. However, some colleges continue to require the submission of these test scores as a last resort to help narrow down otherwise similar applicants.