After many years of the ACT being the college entrance test that Illinois schools provide to students, the SAT will now be replacing the ACT. Illinois’ contract with the ACT is now coming to a close, which has resulted in the SAT and coming together to implement the exam in all public schools.
The ACT has been the test students have been preparing for since their freshmen year. Every year, the Illinois’ government would provide an ACT free of charge to juniors. Now, the SAT will be the new entrance exam provided. Due to the ending of the contract with ACT, the state of Illinois is leaning towards the SAT as the free exam given to students in early March.
The SAT is known to be more prominent among colleges on the East coast, while the Midwest region is mainly responsive to the ACT. According to the Chicago Tribune, in the Illinois class of 2015, 157,047 students took the ACT exam and less than 6,000 took the SAT.
Many juniors took both the practice ACT and practice SAT, the PSAT, in order to begin the transition into the new exam. Starting in February of 2016, freshmen will take their first practice SAT and sophomores will take their PSAT on the same day as juniors take the ACT, April 19. Some juniors, due to limited preparation, felt unprepared to take it.
“I felt really unprepared for the PSAT,” junior Christopher Tsourmas said. “I didn’t even know the test format. I didn’t know what to expect.”
The teachers who help students prepare for these exams will also learn the formatting and strategies for the exam. The juniors will finish their testing sequence with the ACT since they are more prepared and are used to that test format.
“[Juniors] have had more exposure and information about the ACT,” assessment supervisor Maureen Pfrank said. “The sophomores and freshman will start their sequence with the PSAT and take the SAT their junior year after they’ve had the practice and familiarity with the type of test it is.”
The SAT is shorter and is scored differently than the ACT. Instead of being scored on a range from 1–36, the SAT scores their tests from a 400 to a 1600. The same subjects, except science, are tested but there are two math portions: one multiple choice and one short answer portion.
“Each tests has their disadvantages, for the ACT, there’s so little time and a lot of questions,” junior Lindsey Prommer said. “For the SAT, I felt like there were multiple answers for each reading question.”
Each test is available for students to take now, but the state of Illinois will provide one free test in March. Students are given the option to take either the ACT or the SAT or both exams.
“Future students shouldn’t stress out about it,” Tsourmas said. “I recommend you try and do your best on both.”