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Bruins reflect on college exam experiences

Senior Abby Weir took both the ACT and SAT in preparation for college. Photo by Taylor Wohlgemuth

Preparation for college-bound students includes taking tests that can open passageways to prestigious universities.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, is considered a rite of passage for these college-bound students. However, the American College Test, or ACT, is held in lower esteem by many, despite the fact that the doors it opens can be equivalent to the opportunities offered to those who take the SAT.

According to the Princeton Press, colleges use both SAT and ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships. However, the test structure and length vary. Time management is said to be crucial to either.

“I believe the hardest aspect when taking either the SAT or the ACT is completing each section in the allotted time limit given,” said Junior Sydney Buckman.

The SAT is three to four hours long, while the ACT is slightly shorter, dependent on the optional essay. Counselor Bethany Williams reflected on her own testing experience, saying that time was a struggle for her as well.

“It’s stressful being in a new environment, and having to complete a test in a time frame,” Mrs. Williams said.

However, Senior Hunter Kennedy said that the most difficult part of endeavor was not the time constraints, but other, more trivial pieces.

“As for time, I had no trouble finishing in the time given to me, which I know a lot of kids do,” Kennedy said. “The worst part easily is in the beginning when you’re filling out all the bubbles for your name.”

Fellow Senior Riley Slater said that his main battle was with the English portion of the SAT.

“I did a lot less well on the English part of it, especially the essay because you have to meet criteria that you don’t necessarily know are there,” he said.

Slater said that he has not taken the ACT, but he does have some knowledge of the differences between them.

“Taking the ACT, as long as you can nail a couple of key aspects of it, seems like it’s easier,” Slater said. “Plus, I believe that the ACT is geared towards a different more common way of thinking when it comes to students.”

Kennedy elaborated on this concept.

“I’ve heard the ACT is easier,” he said. “I think it’s more straightforward and (has) less description of the question.”

So how should students with plans for future education prepare for these exams?

“I didn’t prepare,” said Mrs. Williams. “However, now there are endless resources available online. I encourage students to first check out the website of the test and see their prep options … With the increased use of technology and availability of the internet, students are able to target their strengths and weaknesses and have practice tests.”

Junior Stuart Wenger described his study methods.

“From my standpoint, prepping for the SAT is kinda hard,” Wenger said. “Essentially you have to dedicate an abundance of your time taking practice tests and creating good study habits to prepare.”

Buckman illustrated her strategies for what study tools she plans to utilize.

“Some of the preparation I plan to take … is picking up and studying the handbooks provided and (taking) online tests,” she said.

As for Slater, he wasn’t too worried about the test.

“I don’t know, everyone (was) very casually dressed with food,” he said. “It’s no different than taking a test here. I thought about studying like once … I got a 1490 in the end.”

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Bruins reflect on college exam experiences