I am often asked which college admissions test a student should take. In my opinion, a student should try both the SAT Reasoning Test and the ACT. I think this advice holds water now more than ever since the Revised SAT came out in 2016. The Revised SAT and the ACT are more similar than the Old SAT and ACT were. Now, both exams have an optional writing section, both have tried to align with the core curriculum taught in high schools, and both give you credit for correct answers only (without a penalty for wrong answers).
A student should take both tests and see which is a better test for him/her. Since they use different scales it may be difficult to tell at a glance which result is better – to help with this I recommend referring to one of the many concordance charts found on-line. (One such concordance chart can be found at www.research.collegeboard.org). Whichever test is relatively higher is the test I would recommend that the student re-take. The optimum number of times to take a test is twice – often students will see a jump in scores between the first and the second sitting and will often see diminishing returns on re-takes beyond the second try.
Ironically, I think that taking both tests actually reduces the stress level for the student. At first glance it may seem like the more testing the higher the stress but this is not true. Taking both tests gives a student a “free pass”. If a student bombs either the SAT or ACT for whatever reason (maybe he was sick or maybe her dog died) then he can submit only the good test and pretend the bad one never happened. This should come as a relief and a de-stressor for the student. After all, every college has to take either test without preference which is a comforting fact.