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Most colleges, including Sattler College, require students to submit scores from a standardized test such as the SAT, ACT, or CLT. While your standardized test score is vital, it is not the only aspect the college admissions team considers when assessing your application. Admissions director Lesley Britton explains it like this: 

“The admissions process at Sattler is a holistic process where we consider thoroughly every single aspect of the application. We use standardized test results to provide an even playing field to evaluate candidates’ quantitative, verbal, and reasoning scores. Having one of these three tests as the standard helps us to get a better picture of where students are across the national average.”

So which should you take: The ACT, SAT, or CLT?

While the tests are similar in many ways, each carries several distinctives. Below we provide some basic comparisons. If you are uncertain which test best fits your needs, we recommend downloading a practice test for each to get a feel for which one you like. Also consider your state’s testing requirements. Some states require high school students to take either the SAT or ACT; in that case, taking one of the other tests would be an extra step which you may or may not want to do. 

ACT - American College Test

“Helping People Achieve Education And Workplace Success”

 

# of Questions in Each Subject

English: 75 questions

Math: 60 questions

Reading: 40 questions

Science: 40 questions

Total: 215 questions

Writing (optional): 1 essay

 

Time Allowed: 

  • 2 hours and 55 minutes (without essay)
  • An additional 40 minutes for writing section

ACT Score:

  • Score Range: 1-36
  • Section Scores: Each section—English, Math, Reading, and Science—receives a score from 1-36. 
  • Composite Score: Your composite score is the average of all four scores. 
  • Essay score: The optional essay is scored separately, using a scale of 2-12.
  • Score Availability: Scores are usually available 2 weeks after taking the test, though that date is extended under some circumstances.

Cost: 

You can send score reports to up to four colleges free if colleges are selected at the time of registration or immediately following. You will pay $13 for any additional college choices. Always check the website to ensure you are seeing the latest fees. Also note that some students may be eligible for fee waivers.

COVID Measures: 

Additional testing dates will be added to Fall 2020 to accommodate the surge in demand prompted by earlier cancellations. Stay tuned for an at-home test taking option in late fall or early winter. Find updated answers to COVID questions on the FAQ page.

Distinctives: 

  • The ACT, started in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT, is now accepted at most colleges. 
  • Unlike the SAT or CLT, the ACT includes a Science section. 
  • Compared to the other two tests, the ACT gives a lower percentage of its score to math skills. Math comprises one quarter of the total score, compared to one third in the CLT and one half in the SAT. If you have poor math skills, the ACT may be the test for you. 

Visit the ACT website for more information. 

Access the Practice ACT Test here. 

 

SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test

“Show Colleges You’re Ready”

 

# of Questions in Each Subject

Reading: 52 questions

Writing and Language: 44 questions

Math No Calculator: 20 questions

Math Calculator: 38 questions

Total: 154 questions

Essay (optional): 1 essay

 

Time Allowed: 

  • 3 hours without essay
  • An additional 50 minutes with essay section

SAT Score:

  • Score Range: 400-1600
  • Section Scores: The Reading and Language sections and the Math sections each receive a score of 200-800.
  • Composite Score: The two scores are added to create your total score. 
  • Essay Score: The optional essay is scored separately on a scale of 1-8. 
  • Score Availability: Scores are usually available 3 weeks after taking the test. 

Cost: 

You can send score reports to up to four colleges free if colleges are selected at the time of registration or within 9 days following. You will pay $12 for any additional college choices. Always check the website to ensure you are seeing the latest fees. Also note that some students may be eligible for fee waivers

COVID Measures: 

Tests must be taken at a registered test center, but additional testing dates have been added due to earlier cancellations in the COVID pandemic. Find updated answers to COVID questions at SAT and PSAT-Related Coronavirus Updates.  

Distinctives: 

  • The SAT is the oldest of the standardized tests and is accepted at most colleges. 
  • One half of the total score is derived from math questions, compared to one quarter of the ACT and one third of the CLT. So, if math is your strong point, the SAT may be the test for you. 
  • The SAT allows more time per question than the other two tests, so if you like plenty of time to work, the SAT may be a good choice. 

Visit the College Board website for more information. 

Access a Practice SAT Test here. 

 

CLT - Classic Learning Test

“The New Standard For College Entrance Exams”

 

# Of Questions In Each Subject

Verbal Reasoning: 40 questions

Grammar/Writing: 40 questions

Quantitative Reasoning (logic and mathematics): 40 questions

Total: 120 questions

Essay (optional): 1 essay

 

Time Allowed: 

  • 2 hours without essay
  • An additional 30 minutes for essay section

CLT Score:

  • Score Range: 0-120
  • Section Scores: Each section can receive up to 40 points.
  • Composite Score: The composite score is the total points you receive.
  • Essay Score: The optional essay is scored separately. 
  • Score Availability: Scores are available within 24 hours of testing (with an exception for remote proctored tests).  

Cost: 

You can send free score reports to an unlimited number of colleges, and there are no hidden fees. Always check the website to ensure you are seeing the latest fees.

COVID Measures: 

The CLT, always an online test, can now be remotely proctored, which means you can take it from home. Visit this web page for more information on remote proctoring. 

Distinctives: 

  • As a newcomer to standardized testing, CLT scores are not accepted at all colleges. Find a list of colleges that accept CLT scores here
  • The CLT uses classic texts to assess students' aptitude and achievement. However, you can score well on the CLT whether or not you’ve received a classical education. 
  • Since the CLT allows for a higher comparable score than the SAT or ACT, you may want to take the CLT as an additional boost to your college application, even if an SAT or ACT is also required. Some colleges tie scholarships to CLT scores. 
  • Unlike the other two tests, a calculator is not allowed on the CLT. The Quantitative Reasoning section is designed to test logical reasoning abilities rather than the performance of complex calculations. If you understand how to think logically through word and number problems, but are weaker in technical math skills, the CLT may be the test for you.  

Visit the CLT website for more information. 

Access a Practice CLT test here. 

Want to see how the scores from all three tests compare?

Visit CLT’s exam comparison page to view a scoring comparison chart.

Other blogs that compare the three tests: 

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