The first ACT was administered in 1959, over 30 years after the first SAT. Students had to pay a test fee of $3 and were only permitted to take the test once. At the time, the SAT was used primarily by selective colleges in the northeastern U.S. and considered an aptitude test or, more controversially, a “measure of intelligence”. The goal of the SAT was to indicate aptitude for learning rather than mastery of subjects already learned.
Taking the opposite approach and attempting to fill a void, the ACT emerged in an effort to provide a measure of students’ achievement. It advertised itself as the fairer test, one that reflected what students had already learned without prophesizing absolute intelligence. From the first test on, ACT scores were reported directly to colleges as well as to the students. Score reports included post-test results given to students with some words of encouragement, communicating that “these few digits, which represent your scores on the ACT, may help you make decisions that will affect many aspects of your future.” I mentioned that students were only permitted to take the test once, right? Sure. That seems fair. Your future.
Numbers-wise, the ACT trailed behind the SAT for several decades. At first, college admissions departments did not accept the ACT as a valid admissions test. I took the SAT in 1995, having never even heard of the ACT. As of 2007, though, every four-year institution recognized the ACT as a valid admissions test. More and more students started opting for the ACT based, in my opinion, on historic hatred for the SAT, unconscious draw towards novelty, misguided understanding of the guessing penalty, and warranted affection for a more linearly structured test.
Still, the ACT did not catch up to the SAT until 2010 when the number of high school seniors taking the ACT (1.57 million) was greater than those taking the SAT (1.55 million) for the first time since the former’s inception. And that brings us to where we are today, with a revamped SAT reinventing itself in an effort to win back all of those lost students.
So what to take? Contact us for a free diagnostic test and consultation.