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Review: ACT or SAT? Choosing the Right Exam for You

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The Bottom Line

I have a hard time getting too excited about this book since it is such blatant evidence of the short-comings of standardized tests and the undue weight many colleges place on the ACT and SAT. That said, standardized tests do play a big role in the admissions process at most selective colleges, and students should take the exam that plays to their strengths. This book does an excellent job steering students to the correct exam.
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  • Clear discussion of differences between the ACT and SAT
  • Debunks many myths surrounding the two exams
  • Practice exam to predict on which test you will score highest
  • Book could save students the cost and stress of taking both the ACT and SAT


  • Students could take a real SAT or ACT in the time it takes to complete the book's exam
  • Practice tests are not full length, somewhat lessening their predictive accuracy
  • Much of the info on the two exams could be found online for free
  • Questions were created by the authors, not SAT or ACT


  • Publisher: Random House, Inc.
  • 245 Pages
  • ACT/SAT practice test with scoring guidelines
  • $15.99 but but often discounted (check the "Compare Prices" link)

Guide Review - Review: ACT or SAT? Choosing the Right Exam for You

The mere existence of the book ACT or SAT? Choosing the Right Exam for You speaks to the high level of student anxiety surrounding standardized test scores. Josh Bornstein, Rebecca Lessem and the folks at The Princeton Review created the book for the simple purpose of helping prospective college students figure out if they are likely to score higher on the SAT or ACT. Nearly all colleges accept either exam, so an applicant's ability to figure out which exam is a better match for his or her strengths could certainly make a difference in the college admissions process.

The first part of the book is what you'd expect -- the authors discuss the significant differences between the tests, and they address a lot of the misinformation surrounding the ACT and SAT. This information is useful, but it doesn't require the purchase of a book to get it.

The real meat of Act or SAT? is the PRA, the Princeton Review Assessment. It's an eight-part practice exam that includes over three hours of questions divided between the SAT and ACT. Scoring charts show you how you can expect to do on the ACT or SAT, and those results can guide you in selecting the exam for which you are most likely to get good results.

The very back of the book has a thin chapter entitled "Paying for College 101." It outlines the basics of financial aid in clear terms, but I'm not sure what it's doing in a book on the SAT and ACT.

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