Who Created the ACT® and SAT® Exams and Why?

Who Created the ACT and SAT Exams and Why?
Both the SAT® test and ACT® test have a fascinating history. We have written an overview of who created these high stakes exams.
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Who Created the ACT and SAT Exams and Why?
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Important SAT Update: Transition to Digital SAT
Effective December 3, 2023, the traditional paper-and-pencil format of the SAT has been discontinued. Starting in 2024, all students are required to take the Digital SAT, ushering in substantial changes in duration, format, material coverage, and question types. This shift to the Digital SAT represents a departure from traditional testing methods. It is crucial for students, educators, and test-takers to acquaint themselves with the new examination structure. Read more about the Digital SAT here.

Both the SAT® test and ACT® test have a fascinating history. Here is an overview of who created these tests, why they were created, and how they have changed over the years.

History of the SAT Test

The SAT was created around the turn of the 20th century. The College Entrance Examination Board (later known simply as the College Board) developed a standardized exam known, at first, as the “College Boards.” In the earliest days of the exam, the army used it as an IQ test, but that application wouldn’t last long. The SAT, as we know it, was first taken by students in 1926.

The SAT became widely popular after World War II. At this time, the GI bill enabled returning veterans to study at college without worrying about paying for tuition. Additionally, the creation of the Educational Testing Service around this same time period facilitated the rapid expansion of the SAT test to colleges throughout the United States.

The SAT has been redesigned numerous times. The first adaptations were made in 1928, and later changes came about in the 1930s, 1940s, 1990s, early 2000s, 2008 and 2012. These changes include the removal of old sections and addition of new ones as well as changes in how the SAT is scored.

The most recent adaptations to the SAT were made in 2016. These changes ensure the questions accurately reflect the skills and information students learn in high school and help the SAT to comply with Common Core educational standards.

The College Board still develops and publishes the SAT exam; however, the exam is now administered and scored by the Educational Testing Service. Between 1.6 and 1.7 million students take the SAT every single year.

The History of the ACT Test

The ACT test was designed in 1959 by Everett Franklin Lindquist, a University of Iowa professor who wanted to create a test based on practical reasoning and personal achievement. The ACT recently surpassed the SAT to become the most popular college test in the United States and was taken by nearly 2 million students in 2018. The ACT is created, published and administered by ACT, Inc., a non-profit organization that also offers other educational programs to high school and college students.

The ACT, like the SAT, has changed over the years. When it was first created, the ACT consisted of four tests: English, Social Studies, Math, and Natural Sciences. However, in 1989, the Social Studies test was converted into a reading section. The Natural Sciences test became a Science reasoning test, and questions were replaced to emphasize problem-solving skills instead of the memorization of scientific facts. An optional writing test was added to the ACT in 2005.

Now What?

Now that you know how and why each test was created, it’s time to decide which one is right for you. Generally speaking, the most significant differences between the two tests is the math sections. SAT provides the geometrical formulas you will need to complete various math questions with the test while the ACT expects students to remember these formulas on their own. Another key difference is that the SAT permits calculator use on just one of the two math sections, while the ACT allows calculator use for all math questions.

If you aren’t sure which test is right for you or you have already decided on a test but want to know what to expect from it, consider using UWorld’s ACT and SAT QBanks to review the information you’ll need to know in order to get a high score. The questions are formatted to look like the actual questions you’ll be given on the big day, and explanations are provided to help students understand the right answers. Once you know what your weak areas are, make a study plan to brush up on important skills you’ll need to master your exam. You don’t need to spend long hours studying each day, but you should set aside at least a half-hour a day to study the English, math and writing skills you need to master the ACT or SAT.

While the ACT test and SAT test are technically competitors, their goal is the same: to assess the mental and educational capabilities of test-takers and provide educational institutions with the scholastic information needed to make well-informed admission decisions. It is naturally challenging to prepare for one of these tests, but bear in mind that the ACT and SAT are simply tools to gauge your college readiness. They lay out a clear educational standard to not only help you get into the college or university of your choice but also ensure that you have the skills needed to embark on a rewarding, successful career.

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