SAT, ACT, and CLT – Which one is right for me?

How Do I Know What College Entrance Exam I Should Take?

By Brett Tubbs

Beginning the college application process can be completely overwhelming. To make matters worse, not all university admissions requirements are created equal. Standardized tests are oftentimes a big part of the college application process.

Wondering which of the college entrance exams is the right fit for you?

The guide below will help you clarify your starting point and potentially speed up your college application process – no more wads of mail and sea of websites to wade through to get the information you need.

Ready? Let’s break it down. Here are a few of the key tests that students can take prior to starting college:

1. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

The SAT is nationally recognized in the United State as a standardized test namely for high school juniors and seniors who are seeking a traditional four-year college degree. This multiple-choice test is an evaluation of the culmination of a test taker’s math, reading comprehension and writing skills. This exam is administered on paper, requires three hours and includes an optional writing portion.

Each section is worth anywhere from 200-800 points each. The scores of each section are then added together for the final tally. Your final score ranges from 400-1600 points. Since exam takers are not penalized for guessing, answer as many questions as possible. The SAT is offered seven times a year in the United States: in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. Expect about three weeks for the College Board to grade and post your score.

Access official SAT practice tests at collegereadiness.collegeboard.org.

2. American College Test (ACT)

The ACT is also nationally recognized in the United States as a standardized test for high school juniors and seniors who wish to begin a traditional college education. The ACT, introduced as a competitor to the SAT in 1959, is similar to the SAT. However, in addition to testing a student’s proficiency in math, reading and writing, the ACT also incorporates a science section, and social science is incorporated into the reading portion. This test requires two hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Each section of the ACT is worth between one and 36 points. Final scores of each section are averaged together and range from one to 36. Since there is no penalty for marking incorrect answers on the multiple-choice parts of the test, answer as many questions as possible, even if guessing. The ACT is offered seven times a year in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada: September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. Scores are normally available about two weeks after taking the test.

Download a free study guide, with practice test, at act.org.

3. Classic Learning Test (CLT) – The New Kid on the Block

According to exam creators, “The CLT is an excellent choice for high school students who excel in reason, logic and reading.” It was developed in response to recent SAT and ACT scandals and an attempt to restore the priorities of truth, goodness and beauty in the education process. High school juniors and seniors can expect to set aside just two hours for this test of grammar, literary comprehension, and mathematical and logical reasoning. The CLT pulls from authors like Augustine, John Calvin, G. K. Chesterton, and Flannery O’Connor, among dozens of other classic thinkers. You may add in an optional, ungraded essay. Test takers must provide their own laptop or tablet.

Two benefits of the CLT are that students receive their scores on the day they take their exam, and they may submit those scores to the universities and colleges of their choice at no charge. You’ll receive a score of 0 to 120, with a 114 being the equivalent of a 36 on the ACT or a 1600 on the SAT.

You can take practice exams for free at cltexam.com.

acts vs. sat vs. clt: which of the college entrance exams should I take?

In regards to SAT and ACT, most colleges and universities do not favor one test over the other. Since the CLT is an emerging disruptor to standardized assessments, not all colleges have on boarded it, so you’ll want to check with your schools of interest before you choose it. Students who have been instructed using a classing learning model may prefer the CLT.

Consider taking a timed practice test of each type and see how you fare. If you’re still unsure, consider taking each test once during your junior year and then deciding which you favor.

While standardized tests and admissions requirements are important, they don’t tell admissions teams the whole story. It’s impossible to completely understand who a student is and how to gauge their potential in the classroom and beyond by simply looking at a standardized test score.

Regent University accepts SAT, ACT and CLT scores. While the university focuses on rigorous academic quality, its enrollment team considers character, critical thinking aptitude, academic history, and extracurricular or professional activities of a prospective student. Additionally, Regent offers provisional acceptances to students who have fulfilled their other admissions requirements but are still awaiting results of their required standardized tests.

For students who are beyond the age of a traditional undergraduate applicant (older than 24), determinants for admission will primarily focus on their professional development since graduating high school. Resumes that demonstrate consistency in work, as well as stability, speak volumes. Regardless of the path of admission you choose, the Regent admissions team is fully prepared to help guide you in pursuing your college education. Learn more about admissions requirements at regent.edu/admissions-aid/.