Should I take the ACT?

I know that this has been posted a lot before but I couldn’t really find a person with close to my situation (if there are please feel free to link them). I am going into senior year and I have 1310 on my SAT which was taken with maybe a week of preparation and on a day I did not eat breakfast and was sick. To be honest, I’m not really aiming for an ivy league or some top school, but I do want to get into a good school with possibly honors and I want to go to medical school. I am taking the SAT again, in about two months, and I am already prepping for it. However, hearing about friends taking the ACT and knowing that it is more science-based (and I am planning to go to school for a biology major) I am now wondering if I should take it. As I said, I’m not a person to aim for a top school but I would really love to get at least a good chunk of merit scholarships from a school. Does it really just depend on how good my upcoming SAT is on if I should the ACT or would you recommend I just take both anyway? I have heard that you should only study for the SAT or the ACT and it is summer, so I want to enjoy it and not overwork my brain. I also am unsure of how much time I would need in between ACT tests to study enough (especially with some of the schools that could offer me a nice percentage of merit scholarships want early admission).
Thanks in advance!

My belief is that you should take both the SAT and ACT. My daughter also received a disappointing SAT score (1320), which leaves her out of the running for merit scholarships at the two main schools she is looking at, although she has a high GPA, and should probably still be able to get into both colleges. However, with the 30 she received on her first try at the ACT, she is eligible for merit scholarships at both schools and her likelihood of getting accepted shoots up. The main difference for her was the Science component. Like you, she plans to major in Biology (or Biology/Biochemistry) as a pre-med major. She has a high aptitude for Science and that most assuredly helped her when she took the ACT. She also scored better in the Math area on the ACT. I would love to hear how things go if you do take the ACT. Please post an update.

Edited to add: A 1310 is a very good score by the way. Probably not enough for Ivy League, but strong enough to get you into most universities in the United States and you did better than most. I wanted to make sure you understand this!

Take a practice test and see how you do. Some students do better on one format over the other.

@BuckeyeMomX3 that makes a lot of sense thank you (and I already realized that my score was disappointing for what I know I can do). I’m going to try to do what @momofsenior1 suggested and take a practice test on the ACT and then see how it goes from there- I will probably end up taking it though. If you know, does having the ACT on my record (if I get a good score) make my app more appealing to colleges with my Biology major?

No difference to colleges which one to send. Kids usually do better on Act of Sat doesn’t turn out the way they want it to. Also depends which schools your shooting for.

There are tons of practice tests online. Find an alarm clock and time yourself strictly before the practice test. Buy first read up on the test format so you know what to expect.

@llamaintheroom My older kid did better on the ACT than the SAT, so it’s worth a try to do a timed practice test and see how it goes. ACT is faster-paced but somewhat more straightforward than the ACT, for example, there will be fewer lengthy word problems in the math section. The science section is less about science content and more about your ability to read and interpret scientific texts, tables, charts, etc. This section also tends to have a fairly harsh scoring curve. Good luck!

@BuckeyeMomX3 I realize this is a few months later but I took the SAT again and the ACT for the first time and got 1370 and 31. The 1370 I am a little upset about as it wasn’t as great of an increase for me but also from what I heard the August SAT curve was a little harsh. However, I feel pretty good about the 31 especially because I only did about a week of studying for it. However, I got a 25 on the science portion (I wasn’t surprised about that part because my brain was really fried during it due to the excessive last-minute studying and therefore I guessed a lot). Will colleges be okay with such a big gap (the other scores are all above 32) especially since I’m planning to go into biochemistry or biology? I really want to apply to the University of Houston’s full-ride scholarship which requires a 30 but I don’t want them to not like my application because of the low science score. I am also planning on taking the SAT school day in early October and possibly doing the ACT in October as well especially since they extended the sign-up day. I understand if the scholarship side of the ACT and SAT is in your wheelhouse but I just wanted to ask you because you know a little bit of the background. Thank you!

Your first time, minimal prep score of 31 is better than your 2nd pass 1370, per the official concordance, so it appears that your personal thinking/working style aligns better with the ACT.

My suggestion would be to spend some prep time getting more familiar with the ACT. A 31 with 25 in Science tells me you did well in the other areas and likely have the ability to score 30 or higher on that section - you may have just had a bad day.

As you probably noticed, the “Science” section isn’t really bio/Chem/physics/etc. science. It’s more data interpretation and logic, which I typically find aligns closely with math scores. It’s different than what you would have seen on the SAT, unlike the other sections. So you were prepped for the other sections, where Science was new. A 2nd attempt, with familiarity, has a good chance of being higher, IMHO.

@RichInPitt both of those points make a lot of sense about SAT vs ACT and the “science” section. Do you think that if I need to apply with my current ACT score that colleges will care a lot about the huge gap between the overall score and the science score? Thank you!