Should I take the ACT or the SAT for BS/MD admissions? This is frequently an issue that comes up with students.
The answer very simply is that either test is perfectly fine for BS/MD admissions. Colleges and BS/MD programs don’t care which test you take. They just want to see your highest score. But the full answer is a little more subtle.
In the past few years, roughly 80% of my students have taken the ACT rather than the SAT. Here is the reason why. Several years ago the SAT redid the test and when the scores started coming out for the new SAT, the average scores were going up 60 to 80 points over the previous version of the test. To maintain roughly the same academic credentials to apply to a BS/MD program, many of the programs raised their SAT minimum score by… you guessed it, 60 to 80 points. A 1,460 or higher is not unusual as a minimum score to even be considered for one of these programs. Meanwhile the ACT hasn’t really changed and most BS/MD programs still use a 30 as the minimum score to be considered. A 30 on the ACT is roughly equivalent to a 1,370 on the SAT. Which means that it is relatively easier to get the minimum score on the ACT when compared to the SAT.
But what about the scores you might want to be more competitive in admissions? With the ACT you are in the most competitive range if you have a 34 plus. A 34 on the ACT is the equivalent for a 1,500 on the SAT. Yet, to be the most competitive for BS/MD programs you typically want a 1,550 plus.
Do you need to take both tests? No. Either is fine and you really don’t gain any advantage by taking both tests. Do some of my students take both the SAT and ACT? Yes. Do they do better in the admissions process than those that just took one test or the other? Not that I can see.
Now, none of this matters if you do better on one test or the other. You always want to focus on taking the test that is best for you and that can really vary from student to student. But, if you score about the same on both tests, the ACT might be the better option.
You might also be wondering if I have missed the fact that the majority of colleges in this country have gone test optional. No, I did notice. However, the vast majority of the BS/MD programs still require either the SAT or ACT for admissions to the programs. For the time being you need to take the SAT or ACT if you are going to be applying to a BS/MD program.