Illinois high school students will now be taking SAT rather than ACT

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Abbey Humbert

Illinois public high schools are making the switch from ACT to SAT.

Abbey Humbert, Staff Writer

Illinois public high schools are all being affected by a new state mandate that makes schools offer the SAT instead of the ACT.

For the past 15 years, the ACT was given to 11th graders as the free college entrance test, but as of this year, Illinois has signed with the College Board, which runs the SAT. LHS will be giving the SAT on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Earlier this year, the College Board for SAT won a $14.3 million bid, $1.37 million less than ACT, to give Illinois public high school juniors this exam. Along with the bid, a three-year contract was signed to give the test, according to the Chicago Tribune. ACT, the rival of SAT, protested the SAT being given because students in the past have taken the ACT rather than the SAT.

The Illinois state budget has been a major problem the last couple of years. For schools, this means the cost of college entrance tests may fall on them. The state has elected to pay for the SAT to be given but if schools want to give the ACT, then that school would have to pay for it.

For juniors at LHS, years leading up to this year have been spent practicing for the ACT with similarly styled tests in class. Now that the ACT is no longer in place, students have to prepare for a SAT-style format.

The makers of the SAT test have tried to make the test less intense, meaning that there is no longer a penalty for guessing. Specifically, the math section has some answers that require the student to write in the answer. Some of the math section also does not allow a calculator.

“The new SAT is less time-intensive.  Students have told me that the pace of the new SAT is much more comfortable for them–they just don’t feel as rushed,” stated college counselor Amy Belstra.

Prior to deciding on signing with SAT, Illinois legislators was thinking about giving out a different test. This test was called PARCC. Some current juniors might remember when last year, as sophomores, they took the practice PARCC test. The practice test was to give Illinois an idea of what PARCC could do for the future students and schools.

I believe the PARCC test wasn’t very necessary because it wouldn’t be used for anything like the SAT and ACT would be,” stated junior Jorie Ryan. Ryan is planning on taking both SAT and ACT so that she can use both scores on college applications.

According to NBC Chicago, “The graduating class of 2015 in Illinois had 157,047 students from public and private high school take the ACT. That’s compared with fewer than 6,000 students who graduated high school in 2015 in Illinois who took the SAT.”

Mrs. Belstra expressed that changing to the SAT will not affect getting into certain colleges. A majority, if not all, colleges treat the scores of the ACT and SAT the same. A certain college will not penalize a student for taking the SAT rather than the ACT.

Students may be concerned preparing for the tests, especially because of the switch to the SAT. Test prep for the SAT can be found on Khan Academy’s website. Khan Academy is a free online test prep website. The College Board website also offers practice for the SAT.

It is still possible to take the ACT at LHS, but the school doesn’t pay for that particular test anymore. The next ACT will be offered at LHS in April. For students who choose to take SAT on a national test date, they must sign up for it. Signing up for this test can be done on the LHS website.