Most students in Korea who are planning to study abroad, just like students all around the world, take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as well as SAT Subject exams. With recent mass SAT cheating scandals, however, students this year were able to neither receive their scores on time nor submit them with their early applications. With test score delays and cancellations, students are now turning towards an alternative in which Koreans are unaccustomed to – the ACT.
The ACT, formerly an abbreviation for American College Testing, is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions. Established in 1959, 33 years after the SAT, the ACT is scored out of 36 points and consists of four sections: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. There seems to be a trend of a gradual increase in the number of test takers since its beginning. According to ACT, Inc., 1,666,017 students took the ACT this year whereas 1,664,479 students took the SAT in 2012.
Jasmine Lee, a senior at Korean International School and a JSR reporter who took both the SAT and the ACT, compared them in an interview.
“The ACT questions tend to be more straightforward,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to understand on the first read and you don’t have to memorize thousands of vocabulary words. But you really have to learn to manage your time.”
The SAT, which has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary, causes many Korean students to feel as if they have to spend days and nights memorizing words in order to successfully gain the score they desire. The ACT, however, contains the science reasoning portion and is lighter on vocabulary. A 25-minute essay writing is the first portion of the current SAT, however the 30-minute essay writing section on the ACT is optional. The writing test will not be included in the composite score but schools will be able to see essays separately.