As of the 2014-15 school year, there has been about a 10 percent increase in students taking the ACT Exam at MHS.
In 2012, 23 percent of MHS students took the ACT. That number grew to 31 percent in 2015. SAT takers, however, remained at approximately 80 percent participation.
Mrs. Hartson, head counselor, gave insight as to why this may be occurring. Hartson said that students feel anxious about the new SAT and would rather stick to a test that is consistent yearly.
“Students tend think that the ACT is easier, but that isn’t the case. It’s a standardized test that measures what is taught in the curriculum as opposed to measuring your aptitude like the SAT,” she said.
Hartson also described another potential draw of the ACT, that being the science and social studies sections in addition to the math and reading sections. The science sections are more geared toward those with a more concrete, analytical type of thinking as opposed to the abstract concepts in the SAT, she said.
“The science section doesn’t measure your science knowledge, but rather your ability to read charts and interpret scientific data. People with a stronger science background may find that more familiar,” said Hartson.
Senior Devyn Flink took the ACT in September. She found it to be a lot less stressful than the SAT, saying it allowed her to have a better sense of time management.
“It was really straightforward and the trigonometry wasn’t even that hard. I felt a lot more prepared. The only thing I can say is to study all of the things you learned in class,” said Flink.
In contrast, senior Chris McGinley took the SAT last May and said he preferred the compact style of the SAT over the broad overview of topics on the ACT. On the SAT there are only two sections, math and reading. To him, this was the basis of its appeal.
“It just felt more natural to me doing something like the SAT. There’s only two sections to study for, so it takes a lot of the anxiety out of it,” said McGinley.
Nationally, the SAT is a standardized test that is more prominent on the East and West coasts while the ACT is highest in popularity in the South and Midwest regions of the United States.
In an Enrollment Trends Report done in 2012, ACT claims that in Pennsylvania the ratio of SAT to ACT was at a four to one ratio.
Mrs. Hartson says that there is no set reason as to why one test is more popular in a region than another. She says one reason the ACT may be taken more in the South and Midwest is that the ACT is based in Iowa.
She adds that, just as admissions offices in the South and Midwest are used to receiving ACT scores over SAT scores, admissions offices on the East and West coasts are used to receiving SAT scores.
All colleges accept the SAT and the ACT equally. However, the only instance where colleges would weigh one test over another would be in the case of more elite and competitive schools. Those types of schools may require the SAT subject tests, in addition to an SAT or ACT exam.
A few exapmles of schools like that include Amherst, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and Vassar.