Most colleges and universities require that all admission testing be completed by the end of January in senior year. Colleges accept results from the ACT, SAT Reasoning and the SAT Subject Tests. These are required by only about 140 of the more competitive colleges. Information about specific college test requirements is readily available in the Guidance Office, or at www.collegebound.org or http://www.act.org. For a list of colleges that do not require standardized testing, check out www.fairtest.org.

Generally, the ACT and SAT are equally acceptable. Some colleges will accept ACT results in lieu of SAT and/or Subject Test results. Check the requirements of the schools to which you’re applying.

The ACT is considered a curriculum-based test, meaning it tests a student’s knowledge of subject matter covered in high school. If students received good grades in challenging classes, the ACT may be a good fit; they’ll be tested on what they learned.

The SAT is traditionally thought of as a test that measures a student’s reasoning or critical thinking skills. It is not as straight-forward as the ACT and is more of an “aptitude” test. Known for using tricky and sometimes intentionally confusing phrasing to determine test-taking skills, the SAT is better suited to the student with strong deductive reasoning capabilities. Good test-takers love the SAT (from suite 101.com)

Differences in Structure

  • The ACT has all multiple choice questions, whereas the SAT also requires students to produce answers to mathematical questions.
  • Questions on the SAT become more difficult as the test progresses; the level of difficulty remains fairly constant on the ACT.
  • Both exams are three hours long, which means students have less average time to answer ACT questions.

Differences in Strategy

  • SAT takers are penalized slightly for wrong answers. The conventional wisdom is to try to eliminate one or two answers and then make the best guess from the remaining choices.
  • ACT test takers are not penalized for wrong answers. Before time runs out, students should guess on any questions they didn’t know or were unsure about. But like the SAT strategy, it makes sense to eliminate as many choices as possible before making a final selection.
  • The SAT is riddled with questions designed to slow the test taker down. Professional test strategists like the Kaplan or Princeton Review recommend moving on to the easier questions and coming back to the harder ones.

Differences in Scoring

A student taking the ACT can earn a maximum of 36 points on each section, which the ACT then averages for a composite score. On the SAT, students earn a maximum of 800 points on each of three sections.

Massachusetts Public Colleges and Universities
Standardized Test Requirements

If you are applying to UMass or a state college within three years of your high school graduation, you should take the SAT Reasoning or the ACT and have your scores sent to the college of your choice. No minimum test scores must be earned, unless your GPA falls below the minimum required. If it does, you still may be eligible for admission based on your SAT or ACT scores. In the chart below, look for your GPA in the first column, and read across to find the Sat or ACT test score you must have to meet the admission standard. Students who meet the minimum GPA requirement should not use this chart.

*Note: At this time, the SAT Writing score cannot be used as a criteria for eligibility and/or acceptance.

Sliding Scale for Freshman Applicants to UMass/State Universities

Must Equal or exceed
Must Equal or exceed
2.51-2.99 950 20
2.41-2.50 990 21
2.31-2.40 1030 22
2.21-2.30 1070 23
2.11-2.20 1110 24
2.01-2.10 1150 25

Sliding Scale for Freshman Applicants to UMass/State College

Must Equal or exceed
Must Equal or exceed
2.51-2.99 920 19
2.41-2.50 960 20
2.31-2.40 1000 21
2.21-2.30 1040 22
2.11-2.20 1080 23
2.01-2.10 1120 24