Should your teen take the ACT or SAT?

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(Moneywatch) ACT or SAT? For teenagers, that's often a tricky question.

After all, with all colleges and universities accepting ACT and SAT results, there is no reason to favor one standardized test over the other. It's also not wise to select whatever test a teenager's classmates are taking. Traditionally, the SAT has been more popular on the East and West coasts and in Texas and parts of the South. Most of the rest of the country has favored the ACT.

    The best way for a teenager to decide which standardized test to choose? Take a practice test for both the ACT and SAT. 

    Best time to take the practice exams

    Summer is an ideal time of year to take practice tests.

    You can find a free SAT practice test on the College Board website. In addition, there are 10 practice tests in the College's Board's Official SAT Study Guide. If you purchase the SAT book, you'll have access to a special test-prep section on the College Board's website.

    The ACT offers free sample ACT questions, but it charges $19.95 for the online ACT prep program that includes sample tests. You can also find five previous tests in "The Real ACT Prep Guide. "

    Students should ideally take the practice tests in the summer after finishing their sophomore year in high school. Once teenagers decide which test to officially take, they should focus just on the SAT or ACT. They shouldn't dilute their efforts by studying for both standardized tests. 

    Compare scores

    It can be difficult comparing scores from the two tests. The highest score a student can get on the ACT is 36, versus 2,400 for the SAT. An easy way to compare scores is to take a look at the ACT and SAT Concordance table or head over the ConvertYourScore.org.