Seniors: What You Need to Know About the ACT and SAT
If you’re excited to apply to college (Lopes Up!), you’ll have to meet certain requirements, such as meeting a minimum ACT or SAT score.
The ACT is a national college admissions exam that tests students in English, math, reading and science. The SAT is a globally recognized college admissions exam designed to test students on how well they can apply knowledge of reading, writing and math. ACT and SAT scores are typically combined with high school performance (GPA) to evaluate students and determine admission decisions.
Although both tests serve as college admissions predictors, each test measures distinct constructs, according to ACT.org.
ACT vs. SAT
The ACT tests high school students on achievement related to high school curricula, whereas the SAT tests students on general verbal and quantitative reasoning, explains ACT.org.
The Princeton Review Assessment (PRA) identifies the following seven differences:
- ACT questions tend to be easier to understand. Understanding the SAT question, before even starting to solve the problem, can be time consuming.
- The SAT emphasizes vocabulary more heavily.
- The ACT includes a science section that tests reading and reasoning skills upon given a set of facts. The SAT does not include a science section.
- The ACT writing test is optional and not included in the composite score. The SAT essay is required. (Keep in mind, many schools require a writing score with the ACT score.)
- The ACT math section tests more advanced math concepts and includes trigonometry.
- The SAT is broken down into 10 sections, whereas with the ACT, you tackle one content area entirely.
- College admissions typically focus more on performance of specific sections of the SAT. Conversely, college admissions look at the overall ACT composite score.
ACT: Register online by visiting actstudent.org. The ACT also offers information on test dates, fees, test centers, test prep, scores and more. Visit The ACT to create an account and start the registration process.
SAT: Visit the SAT website to register for the exam. By registering online, you’ll choose a test date and test center. You’ll receive immediate registration confirmation, as well as 24-hour registration access to print or correct your admission ticket. In addition to registration, SAT also offers practice and scoring information.
Students can also register for both tests by mail. For the ACT, students who are younger than age 13 or cannot pay by credit card must register by mail.
Juniors and seniors can take the ACT and SAT. Most students take the exam during junior year and can retake the exam during fall of senior year to raise their score.
Grand Canyon University Requirements
If you’re applying to be a full-time student at the GCU campus, you have to submit official high school transcripts with a cumulative, unweighted grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above.
Submitting ACT or SAT scores is a second option for admission eligibility. Students must meet the following:
- ACT: 19 (GCU reporting code 0092)
- SAT: 920, including math and reading scores only (GCU reporting code 4331)
ACT and SAT scores may also be help determine academic merit award consideration.
Honors College Eligibility
Incoming freshmen applying for the Honors College at Grand Canyon University must also meet the following standardized testing requirements to be honors-eligible (in addition to a 3.8 weighted or unweighted GPA):
- 27 composite ACT score OR
- 1200 math and verbal SAT score
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