College entrance exam choice dependent on student goals

Local students show preference toward ACT, 2015-16 scores decrease

Faye Smith

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The American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) are two of the standardized college entrance exams that students take to be admitted into colleges and universities around the country. Local students take the ACT more frequently than the SAT, not because of the test itself, but because of the requirements of their chosen college.

“Most students stay in the midwest and a majority of students go to Kansas colleges or universities and they require the ACT. Students who are going to coastal schools are going to take the SAT. Students who are also applying to service academies are going to be taking the SAT and students who are thinking about applying to Ivy League schools are probably going to take the SAT also,” principal Lisa Moore said.

During the 2015-16 school year, 136 students took the ACT. According to ACT College Readiness Letter for the high school, Newton’s average 2015-16 composite score was 21.5, while Kansas’ state average was 21.9. Moore feels that the average composite score could increase in the future if students took rigorous courses and prep classes.

“There could be a variety of reasons why the score was lower than years past. We might have had more students take the test who had not yet taken enough higher level classes for which material is taught. I believe that we are able to raise our scores through extra opportunities for test prep and study sessions both inside the classroom and outside the classroom,” Moore said.

According to Moore less than five students took the SAT last year and only individuals get test results back. With that, Moore believes that if students are not going to a school that requires the SAT, there is no need to take it.

“I don’t believe that we should have more students take the SAT. Most students have a good idea of where they want to apply to attend college and they know if that school requires an SAT score,” Moore said. “These national tests can become quite expensive if students are having their scores sent to multiple schools and other institutions and also if they are taking the tests more than once in order to increase their scores.”

In addition to college acceptance, both tests are used by colleges to determine scholarship recipients.

“Colleges do use the ACT scores to determine scholarships. It depends on who they’re going to give money to. If the colleges use the SAT scores, they will do the same thing. If you got a 30 on your ACT, colleges will want you to come to their school so they will offer you scholarships,” counselor Brad Cooper said.