Looking for some advice on SAT vs ACT . My daughter took the PSAT and pre-ACT offered by her school this year ( 10 grade ) - with no prep at all.
She got a 29 in ACT and 1250 in PSAT .

Her counselor advised her to focus on taking the ACT over the SAT in Junior year - the thing is I had already signed her up for a local intensive SAT prep class over the summer and now am wondering if I should cancel that and have her study for ACT only.
My daughter is saying she would rather focus on one and get a really good score rather than average scores in both.

Thanks for any input !

The ACT score is the stronger of the two scores so I can understand why the advisor is recommending focusing on the ACT prep. Does the prep class offer a class for the ACT instead?

Which one did your daughter feel better about? A 1250 on the PSAT in 10th grade really isn’t bad either.

Thanks , yes it does. I was thinking the SAT prep would somehow help ACT too but maybe I can just switch her and have her focus on ACT …thank you !

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You should change your ID to something other than your name, and quickly.

I would have her focus only on the ACT. With or without a class. It’s definitely possible to self-prep for it. My kid had something like about a 30 on a diagnostic test, brought it up to a 36 with self-prep.


There are so many better ways for a student to spend their priceless summer vacation. If you are going to invest what is surely a large sum of money on test prep, do yourself and your child a favor and consider private one on one tutoring. Your child will get individualized attention and will not spend so much wasted time in a class setting, learning the basics along with a lot of other kids. It will almost certainly be less expensive too.

As far your original question, 29 is substantially better than 1250. Just have her prep for the ACT. It’s clear she will have a better score.


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Back to the topic please.

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If she doesn’t strongly prefer the content of either test, the ACT score is certainly stronger. She could take one or two official practice tests and use the official concordance to confirm her abilities/work style best suits the ACT.

If she’s going to take the ACT, I would strongly recommend an ACT class, not an SAT class and hoping it would transfer.

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My 3 youngest took the ACT and SAT 3 times each, with tutoring. Classes didn’t help #1 and #2 at all, tutors did. My oldest only took the SAT, the others all did better on the ACT vs. the SAT.

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Besides the fact that it seems like the ACT may be a better test for her, jn many ways the ACT is easier to study for. It’s a bit easier in terms of material but requires speed. For most students, it’s easier to get faster with practice than to master harder material. (Not all, btw – some find the speed requirement too stressful.)

The classes are likely to have a different focus depending on the test, so prep for the test she plans to take. I agree that a good tutor is likely to be more helpful than a class. (And I say this as someone whose kid did a class…)

29 ACT is like 1330-1350 SAT. So additional preparation for the SAT would not help for the first 100 points of score gain. However, any gain on the ACT would help.

The only reason to try to improve the (P)SAT would be if there was a realistic chance that the 11th grade PSAT could reach the National Merit threshold for large scholarships, but that would probably require a larger gain from 1250 than most would consider to be reasonably likely.

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That’s great can you tell what resources he used for that because i am also preparing for that.

Change your screen name to something anonymous.

Mine used the Best ACT Math Books Ever, books 1 and 2, to self prep for the math, but said that no matter how much they prepped, they still ran out of time on the math section, and reached problems that they hadn’t seen on the prep. Wound up with a 34 in math, 36 in everything else. Later on, after a few months of Calc BC class, said that had they had Calc before the test, they probably would have gotten a 36, because Calc could be used to solve problems faster. Odd - the test is not supposed to require Calc.

They didn’t use any other books, because they’d already absorbed a high level of English from reading and the level of spoken language in the home. They used the Official Guide to the ACT for some practice tests (you can get a slightly out of date one cheaply, since the only update they make is changing out one of the tests annually). You can also download legally released old ACTs from a thread on Reddit, usually, some with explanations.

For science, all they need to do is a few practice sections until they’ve seen all the ways in which data is presented. For English, do the sections to find what help student needs on points of grammar and learn those. If they’re having trouble with the reading passages, you do need a tutor, since this is a basic skill that is absorbed by having read widely throughout their school years. A good tutor one on one can help more with this than a prep class could.

If they’re starting way ahead of time, they could do one section a day. Mine did about 40-60 hours total, often did one math plus one “easy” section (Science, English, Reading) a day, but did go through the math sections in the book that were indicated by their first diagnostic test.

It is really very possible for a motivated student to self prep and do well on the ACT. However, most students just aren’t very motivated to take the time to do this, from what I’ve seen.

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