AHS Alum Protests New Building Model and Gains Major Support

Arlington High School

By Connor Rempe

Carl Wagner, age 49, graduated Arlington High School in the year 1987. Ronald Reagan held the Presidency, Full House debuted on TV, and baggy “MC Hammer” pants flew off of department store shelves. Things are different now, but one thing has remains the same: the iconic facade of Arlington High’s Collumb house. It is something that Wagner and his group, “Save Our Historic AHS”, want to see preserved long into the future.

AHS alum asks of building committee, can we be doing better?

SOHAHS was founded by Mr. Wagner and a handful of other town members and architects, many of whom had written to the Arlington Advocate in opposition to the Building Committee’s plan to tear down the existing school. The groups purpose, as Wagner made clear, is not to oppose the updating of the school but rather “as opposition to the current project,” as a means “to support the schools and to continue to support Arlington High in a way we think is better for Arlington.”  

In the early stages of the building project, Wagner was happy with the process of the committee. Based on public opinion the group outlined three priorities for the new school: budget, minimizing disruption of education, and maintaining historical spaces. Mr. Wagner attended committee meetings as the group whittled down the options from eight to three, seemingly keeping in mind these three pillars along the way. Two of the options maintained the historic facade while the third, instead, built the school on the current front lawn.

The group then sent the three options to the public to get their opinion. The survey found that most people favored the third option, knocking the building down and starting over. However, Wagner found that the amount of people that voted for options that preserved the school dwarfed those that voted for the third option. Considering that one of the three pillars of the committee was to maintain historical facades Wagner had faith that they too would see this trend.

However, on June 26th, the Building Committee voted to proceed with the third option and knock down the existing structure. Wagner and his group were shocked: “We felt as if the Building committee had sort of been stringing us along.” The group immediately started writing letters to the governor, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority, trying to let them know what was happening. They created a website to try and spread the word and started a petition that now has more than 300 signatures. Wagner and his group even protested near the building committee’s booth at Arlington’s Town Day, handing out flyers and speaking to citizens about the new project.

“Almost everybody we spoke to was shocked,” said Wagner. “We got about 30 more signatures to our petition in person and many more online.” The protestors were asked to leave by the building committee but protestors explained they were practicing their first amendment rights .

Why care about this?

Even Wagner himself admits that as a student he would’ve wanted to “burn the place to the ground.” However, the average household stands to pay about $800 to $1000 more in taxes each year for the next thirty years. While Wagner insists that his group members are not fiscal conservatives and do want to see the school remodeled, they do think we can be doing better. “The bar for destroying public spaces must be set high,” Wagner said.

The Collumb house building was designed in 1932 during an era of fervour and vitality . Drawing inspiration from this excitement, the architect modeled the building after the current state house and the iconic clock tower after the old state house.  

“They picked up the spirit of the American revolution and put it in there,” said Wagner. “You won’t be able to capture that in any modern building.” Wagner mentioned the newly remodeled Thompson school, done by the same architects hired to do the new high school: “It’s a fine school, but it will never be on par with this in terms of the feeling of history.”  

Wagner is concerned that the town stands to forget its past and what made Arlington great in the new building. He fears that a modern structure “will lose a lot of what America stood for and still stands for, it will say let’s forget about Arlington as a town and look forward to Arlington as a city”

SOHAHS is not only concerned with the facade of the building but also the front lawn area which it said is “the largest green space on Mass. Ave. from Lexington to Cambridge.” Not only will green space be lost but also the front drop off area, which is used for things like car washes, will be gone as well.

Instead, the building committee plans to build a two-lane road that will loop all the way around to what is now the back of the school and use that as a new drop-off location. Wagner says the road will cost millions and cause traffic on Mass. Ave., Mill Street, and Grove Street. The town also plans to turn the upper grass fields into a parking lot for the DPW that will be accessible to students.

All of this, said agner, will cost a massive amount of money and result in what he estimates to be a loss of three quarters of the front lawn.

While Carl Wagner and SOHAHS are in favor of rebuilding Arlington High School, they are worried that the town will not make the new building into something that the people want; something that honors Arlington’s historic past while maintaining functionality for a bright future.

“We’re better than this,” says Wagner. “To lose the facades that are so beautiful , to lose the land, and to loose the drop off which will result in traffic mess, is really beneath us.”


Limebike Rolls into Arlington

By Caleigh Lyons

What are all those green bikes parked on sidewalks around Arlington? They are LimeBikes, which people can easily use with an account on LimeBike’s Lime app. Many people are starting to ride them, even some Arlington High students are commuting to school using LimeBikes.

In June 2018 LimeBikes- a dockless biking system-rode into Arlington and 15 local communities. All you need to do is buy the Lime App on your smartphone, create an account, and then you are able to start riding!

On the Lime app you can use a map to locate nearby bikes. Your smartphone can lock and unlock the bike. LimeBikes cost $1 to unlock and $0.05/minute to ride. Students, faculty, and staff with a “.EDU” e-mail address receive a 50% discount. Your first ride is free; when you are done with a ride, park the bike in a responsible location and unlock it.

Students at Arlington High use various means of transportation. Some bike, bus, drive, and walk. Student Maggie Caradonna says, “I really like using the LimeBikes when they’re near me.” She enjoys riding them to school, but they are not normally near her home. She continues, “When I find one in the area though, I will usually use it to get to school the next day.”

Arlington High student Kian Silva says that LimeBikes “are good for when I need to go one way and don’t want to bring my bike for one trip, and,” he adds, “ if I have a ride back from where I’m going, I won’t have to be forced to ride the bike back or cram it in the car.”

LimeBike is evolving from being a San-Mateo based startup, to now serving in Seattle, WA, the only major US city to have a citywide dockless system. These green bikes are spreading across the country from West to East coasts. LimeBike’s director of expansion in the Northeast region, Scott Mullen, lives in Arlington. He is pleased to see these green bikes come into town.

In an ACMI interview Mullen says “Before we even launched we wanted to bake in that concept of accessibility, availability, and affordability. … We’re launching now, it’s called Lime Access program, you can pay cash- we are recruiting people who are already getting existing government benefits like SNAP, WIC, EBT and such- and … for five dollars we will get you one hundred dollars in trip credits. It’s one hundred thirty minute trips … nickel per trip. This beats any other form of transportation.”

Mullen also says to ACMI “Let’s give people a different way to get around. And that’s really what makes Lime unique. We don’t just come in and drop bikes, and we’re not here to make a buck with a bike. We’re here to help people think five years down the road and to make that change happen right now.”


Student Gets Inside Scoop on New Athletic Director

Photo Courtesy of @wickedlocal

By Jessie Cali

Dr. Stanley Vieira recently became the athletic director at Arlington High School. I sat down with him to ask a few questions and welcome him into our community. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What made you interested in applying to work at Arlington High?

A: The biggest reason why this position interested me is because of my love with working with athletes at the high school level. My first job was working at a high school as a track coach, and I just felt like I made a real big impact at that point in my life, and I miss working with high school students. I saw the job opening and I thought, I would love to apply and see if this works out. And it did!

Q: Where did you last work prior to AHS?

A: I was working at Providence College. I was an athletic director for different colleges over the years, but I was working with off campus students at Providence College, and I really missed athletics. I missed working with student athletes, and coaches, and teams, and scheduling. I missed all of that stuff.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of the AHS community so far?

A: Number one is student athletes. I love how close everyone is and how they support each other. Number two: parents. They are super supportive, and they are really good communicators. Just the other day we were trying to get the scoreboard going for one of our JV football games and one of the parents just said, “I’ll do it!”. And I think that’s common. All of the parents are so willing to help out. And then beyond athletes and their parents is the external community. Local businesses, how supportive they are, and the relationship we have with ACMI is phenomenal. So it’s hard to pick just one thing but those are a few that really stick out.

Q: Did you play sports growing up? If so, which ones?

A: I played hockey, basketball, lots of things. But in high school and college I ran track. So that was kind of my number one, but I truly love all sports. I can’t say I love one more than the other. I think they’re all great. But for me personally I ran track and I just loved it. I started it to stay in shape, and then I kind of fell in love with it. I really did.

Q: Are there any specific changes you hope to make to the athletics department here?

A: One of the things that sticks out to me is the lack of branding that the program has. I want to put more banners out, I want to get the “A” out more. The other thing is that I’ve got to figure out what our logo really is. It seems like we’ve had a lot of different A’s over the years, it seems like that is an important part of our history, and the question is how do we brand that? Because it’s in certain places, but it’s not everywhere. Like when you go out to your field, other than the older scoreboard and midfield, there’s no A’s anywhere. It’s kind of disappointing to me. So branding is big, to make sure that we are getting our name out there so that people have a lot of spirit. And then the last piece is making sure that our students are really getting out there in the community as far as community service. I mean, you all have 40 hours to do, but I think we could do so much more with the community. And then giving students the opportunity to grow as leaders, doing development. For me it’s about developing from the moment you get here as a ninth grader to the moment you leave as a senior.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your role here so far?

A: I think the biggest challenge was probably coming here so late. When I got here it was already preseason, so I had to figure things out quick. So that was probably the biggest challenge, just being thrown in very quick and trying to get everything figured out. And I still have so much, as you can see my desk is a little messy, I’m trying to figure out paperwork and everything else, but I’m slowly pecking away at it. Step by step, everyday I learn a little bit more and I figure it out.

Q: Do you have any tips for students who are trying to balance sports and schoolwork?

A: I would say the biggest skill you can learn as a student athlete is time management. When I was in high school, my coach made me get a planner to plan out when I was practicing, studying, even eating. If you don’t manage your time well as a student, it gets away from you quick. It’s like putting off your homework and saying oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. And then all of the sudden it’s the day before the big test and you’re like oh no, I’ve got to study! At varsity or sub-varsity levels you’re travelling a lot. When other students are at the library or at home eating, our students are on a bus, travelling back and forth. So it’s just managing your time and making sure that you understand, I have certain things I have to do. If you don’t understand that, it gets away from you quick. That’s probably the best advice I can give.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: The only thing I would like to say is that I am super excited about this opportunity. I love being here, I love the student athletes, the administration, the parents, everyone has been so welcoming, so great. So I’m really excited. I would finish with that.

Love Simon: The Charming John Hughes Love Story For A New Generation


By Miles Shapiro

After an extended hiatus in the 90s and early 2000s coming of age stories seem to have been granted a resurgence as of late with films such as “The Spectacular Now” and “The Edge of Seventeen”. On television in particular shows like “Riverdale” and “13 Reasons Why” have brought in massive following while also being reasonably well received by critics. This 1980’s teen flick renaissance continues with “Love Simon”, the story of a high school senior coming to terms with life, love, and all the other ups and downs of adolescence. It is refreshing how “Love Simon” features a gay protagonist, making it the first major studio romantic comedy to do so.

In the titular role of Simon, Nick Robinson radiates charisma; bringing debt and relatability to the films closeted lead. The screenplay by Elizabeth Burger as well as Arlington High School Alumni Isaac Aptaker crackles with youthful energy and provides a sappy but deeply honest portrait of adolescence and unexplored sexuality. The film bends to genre tropes unabashedly while at the same time, its unique voice and charm gives it a style all its own. Despite its contemporary setting, the films atmosphere, music, and visual palet give it a timelessly seductive feel and coaxes the viewer into a feeling of nostalgia.

The films supporting cast also shines with a slew of young talents as well as more well known names like Tony Hale and Josh Duhamel rounding out the well drawn cast of characters. The film is well paced and despite not necessarily breaking any new ground in terms of storytelling, this film is revolutionary for what it doesn’t show. Unlike many stories of inclusion that put their progressiveness at the forefront of the story, “Love Simon” is refreshingly restrained. The movie features a homosexual protagonist, but that is is not the story, it’s just part of it. Simon’s sexuality of course plays a large role in the film but the story is never compromised to make room for the message.

This film is not going to be competing at any festivals or winning any oscars, but that was not its intent. What this film sets out to do is tell a charming romance with just enough substance and heart to elevate it above its contemporaries. In this goal, the movie fully succeeds and in time will likely take its well deserved place as one of the more prominent entries in the teen film’s second coming as well as a welcome milestone in the journey to on screen equality.

Arlington Girls Softball Team’s Season Heightens

Photo of Ellie Demaree (senior)

By Chloe Jackson

The 2018 Spring Arlington Girls Softball Season has commenced, and the team kickstarted the new season with an impressive record. The varsity team, ranked 37th in the state of Massachusetts and captained by seniors Abi Ewen and Ellie Demaree, holds a 9-1 record and 6-1 league record.

Girls Varsity Softball consists of sixteen Arlington High student-athletes, began practicing on March 19th with coaches Matt and Dan O’Loughlin; they will continue to play until the end of their season in early June. The team practices six times a week excluding game days. Senior Holly Russell is excited for this year’s “good start” that will “continue to improve and get better” as the season progresses. The softball program also held a successful car wash on April 14th to earn funds for the team.

Each year, several Arlington players are awarded league all-star awards. Players Holly Russell, Abi Ewen, Emily Benoit, Ellie Demaree, and Katie O’Brien have received recognition in the past, and are likely contenders to earn the title for another spring season. The Varsity team has maintained an impressive 0.364 batting average, a 0.927 fielding average, and has stolen 44 bases. Meanwhile, the Junior Varsity and Freshman teams have also displayed notable starts to their seasons. Many eighth graders have been offered positions on the freshman team, bringing in a younger generation to the high school program. Freshman Coach Bob Bartholomew has introduced them the high school softball experience.

As senior Holly Russell reflects on her years playing softball with AHS, she is “shocked that it will be over soon.” However, as her last sports season ever as a tri-varsity athlete comes to a close, she enjoys her senior season on the softball team. The girls softball team continues to fight for each victory as their season progresses and the school year comes to a close.

AHS Responds to Recent Hate Crimes

By Claire Kitzmiller & Isabella Scopetski

On the night of Tuesday May 2nd, a group of young males broke into Arlington High and vandalized the school. Their actions consisted of breaking windows, smashing art show display cases, discharging fire extinguishers, breaking tables and smearing various “items” around school property. Additionally, the intruders spray painted three messages of hate on the outside wall of the school, consisting of two homophobic slurs and a swastika on a trash barrel. This detailed information was released to the student body by the end of the day on May 3rd in an email from Principal Dr. Janger.

The administration and the junior class council spent the day on Wednesday planning a response to the hate crimes. During the last period of the day, an assembly was held for all students and staff in the building. The assembly began with a speech from Dr. Janger who condemned the vandalism and reminded his students of how AHS fosters inclusiveness and positivity at its core.

“This vandalism is an attack on our entire community”, announced Janger, “hate speech and vandalism are the opposite of everything we stand for at AHS”. Further in his letter, Janger expressed his concern for the “students who feel particularly targeted by these symbols and words” and his sadness for the “vandals who feel a need to express hate in [the AHS] community”.

Throughout his message, Janger commented on the continual dedication AHS as a community has to “creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive community” which, he noted, “requires ongoing work, [but] Arlington High School is in a good place and moving in the right direction”. However, when events such as this extreme case of vandalism occurs, many wonder who these individuals are, and others ask themselves, how could these people be a part of my own community? It is disturbing and puzzling to many students that members of their own school, or even their own classmates, would display such violence for seemingly no reason at all.

During the grade-wide assembly, members of the junior class student government spoke to their peers, each reading a speech they had prepared during school that day in light of the assembly.

Junior Class President Neil Tracey spoke specifically about the “150 years of legacy to look at” when events shake the AHS community. “We need to talk about the good work that we do” advised Tracey, “because we are defined by that good work and not by the hateful actions of a few individuals”.

Junior Class Vice President Devin Wright responded to the events by saying “The one thing we should all have in common is wanting to make our school a safe and welcoming place for all who attended it”. “We are all just people trying to live our lives with the respect and safety that everyone deserves”, she added.

After the assembly, students and staff were invited to draw welcoming and uplifting chalk messages on the front of the building. Messages include, “Hate has not home here” and “You are loved.”

Many community members were surprised to see such hate in the community but many students feel the hatred expressed by vandalism in school everyday. One junior at AHS believes the vandalism is “just reflexive of how a lot of people think in our school but don’t usually act on.” It is upsetting to many students that the administration only takes action against the ever present hatred in the school, when it becomes visible to everyone.

After the vandalism, students and staff were forced to take a closer look at a problem that has been hidden to many. Biology teacher, Shannon Knuth said, “I think there’s a bigger problem here than what I really understood about.” Many students and staff who are not directly affected by the hatred at AHS, feel the same sentiment.

While the administration did have a quick and effective response to the vandalism at AHS, many community members recognize that the Arlington High School still has a long way to go.

AHS Compost

By Jessie Cali

Arlington High School is implementing a new pilot composting program in the school cafeteria. Every Friday, AHS students will have the option to discard their food scraps, napkins, compostable trays, paper plates, and paper food boats into collection toters lined with compostable bags in the cafeteria. Black Earth Compost, a compost collection service, will then process and distribute the contents to local farms.

During the pilot period, the Arlington Department of Public Works will cover the cost of the collection through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Maya Pockrose, a junior at Arlington High School, attended a semester school program in Maine this past fall where she was inspired to bring sustainable practices such as composting to AHS.

When describing her experience at the semester school, Pockrose said, “By harvesting and then eating much of the food we ate, then helping to compost it on site, we were able to clearly see the process and the nutrient cycle and how food waste could be used beneficially. No food scraps were wasted there, and when I returned to AHS I wanted to bring with me that same spirit of natural resource conservation and environmental awareness.”

Pockrose spearheaded the initiative, sending a proposal to Arlington sustainability coordinator Rachel Oliveri along with the AHS administration.

“Student participation in the pilot is critical to its success,” Oliveri said on the new program,  “Food waste is a concerning global issue. The US wastes about 126 billion pounds of food per year. In Arlington, our food waste goes to an incinerator to be burned. In other parts of the country, food waste sits in landfills. Both release greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. Composting is a much better option, as the food scraps and paper trays combine and biodegrade into a nutrient-rich soil supplement that supports new plant and tree growth.”

Six of the other Arlington Public Schools (Bishop, Brackett, Dallin, Peirce, Stratton, and Thompson), also have compost buckets in their cafeterias.

The goal of this program is “not only to improve our sustainability as a school but also to raise awareness about the environmental issues we are facing and how we can actually help,” Pockrose added, “Composting is an easy, attainable way to ensure that the nutrients in food waste go back into the earth instead of into landfills.”


AHS Students Create Online Magazine

angelhead magazine

By Ellie Crowley

AHS students have always been known for their creativity, and are a continuous source of pride for the community with their art shows, music exhibitions, and theater performances. However, sophomores Maren Larkin and Molly O’Toole felt that the community was lacking the proper means to truly express their creativity freely beyond the high school. In the fall of 2017, the girls started Angelhead Magazine, which is “an artistic platform for the creative youth of Boston”—in other words, “an online art magazine for teens.”

Larkin and O’Toole first thought of the magazine after participating in a summer film photography workshop. After collaborating with other artists within the workshop for two years, Larkin says that “I started thinking about how cool it would be if we could all connect and share our art together.” O’Toole affirms this idea, saying “We wanted to create a space where the hard work and creativity of our peers is appreciated.” The girls’ motivation to to share their work led to the launching of Angelhead Magazine in the fall.

The magazine’s name was inspired by a line from the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg. In Larkin’s words, “He writes about ‘angelheaded hipsters’ which struck me as kind of funny and interesting all at the same time.” Though originally unsure of the name, the pair kept returning to Angelhead Magazine, and it stuck. When asked if it has been difficult establishing themselves, Larkin says that it has been “easy and hard all at the same time. We definitely have a long way to go,” adding that they have published two bi-monthly collections since the launch. She explains that “one of the hardest things has been getting in touch with artists outside of Arlington—our first collection was almost entirely Arlington based.” However, O’Toole adds, “as we post more collections, and it grows, it becomes easier to get in touch with kids outside of our school and expand our circles.” The girls have also heavily utilized social media to reach out to local artists and found that teens are “very eager to contribute.” They realized that a significant amount of the content submitted has documented the local marches and protests, which adds a political aspect to the magazine that they hadn’t expected but greatly support. O’Toole notes, “We think that art and activism are closely tied, and often the best art is the kind that provokes social change.” The girls have loved the political additions and encourage artists to submit more because, in their words, “[activism] is very important to us and our vision for the magazine.”

Angelhead Magazine has received a great amount of support from the artistic community. Larkin adds that “I think it’s an idea that a lot of people have dreamt of pursuing,” and that she’s pleased that they have created a space to further connect the community. If you’re interested in checking out Larkin and O’Toole’s work, be sure to visit https://angelhead-mag.squarespace.com/.

Girls Frisbee Team Becomes a Spring Sport

Clara Stewart, senior captain of girls ultimate team

By Eliza McKissick

This spring, an all-girls ultimate frisbee team was established at Arlington High School for the first time. Previously, girls could join the co-ed ultimate team; however this year there was enough interest to form an all-girls team.

Senior Clara Stewart was a captain of the co-ed team her sophomore and junior year, but has since decided to dedicate her time to forming the new all-girls program. Stewart says she spent a couple of years thinking about establishing an all girls program, but there was never a great push for it. However, this year Stewart explained that the “timing seemed right [and] there seemed to be enough interest.” With 18 girls on the roster, Arlington High was able to establish an all girls ultimate frisbee team

Junior Lilah Vieweg is new to ultimate frisbee, but is excited to get involved with the sport. Vieweg initially joined because she knew “everyone else would be a beginner, so [she] wasn’t too worried.” Other members agreed that they felt welcome to join, regardless of their experience level. According to Stewart, ultimate frisbee has a “great sense of community, where everyone is focused on helping each other succeed.” It is clear that this sense of community has made its way to the AHS girls team.

Since ultimate frisbee is not recognized as an MIAA sport, the team will operate as a club. For this reason, they will not receive school funding; however, they will be able to design their own jerseys and choose their team name. Stewart explains that the “team will be going through parks and rec to get field time.” Players will be responsible to pay for field time, jerseys, transportation, and any other costs that come with playing. Stewart shares that this can make it “hard to recruit since it can get expensive.” The team will be equipped with a few different volunteer coaches. Geoa Geer, who works at an ultimate frisbee organization known as BUDA,  and who is an ultimate world champion is one of the volunteer coaches. A few neighboring towns, such as Lexington and Newton, have girls programs already established. The Arlington High girls team will compete against these other teams in friendly scrimmages.

Equipped with excellent coaching and motivated players, the newly established Arlington High School all-girls ultimate frisbee team seems to be a great position for their first season.


The Truth About Standardized Testing: SAT vs. ACT


by Isaiah Donovan

As students progress through high school, college plans loom on the horizon. For many, assembling a satisfactory curriculum is a source of unending stress. Of course, college is not in the cards for every high schooler, however the majority of students move on to some sort of further education. In their quest to condense their entire educational career into a single document, standardized tests become a way for students to express their knowledge, especially in cases where they are lacking in other areas. Standardized tests also may offer opportunity to receive merit scholarships and awards, which are crucial for many students.

Which Test Should You Take?

It is then that the true question emerges: What test to take? Most colleges and universities expect or require students to complete the ACT or the SAT. Every student has unique skills and areas of interest, and in truth, there is no test that will suit them perfectly. However, there are certainly aspects of each exam that many would find appealing over the other.

The History of the Test

Before an analysis, the history of these tests should be considered. The College Board was formed in 1900, and the organization set out to standardize the admissions process. Roughly 23 years later, Carl C. Bingham administered an altered version of the Army IQ test to Princeton freshmen, and was put in charge of a College Board committee to adapt the test once again. This exam would later become the aptitude test called the SAT (History of the SAT: A Timeline). In 1959, Everett Franklin Lindquist, a professor at the University of Iowa developed an alternative to the SAT, one that would assess a student’s current knowledge rather than their ability to learn. This ACT became more prominent over time, surpassing the SAT in the number of test takers in 2012. As of 2015, 1,924,436 students take the ACT that year, compared to 1,548,198 taking the SAT (Zhang). The SAT began to adapt its process to be more similar to the ACT, and focuses more on assessing current knowledge rather than future success.

A Common Misconception

Many students, particularly those around the east coast, suffer the misconception that the SAT is more widely accepted, or that the ACT is made for the middle of the country. In fact, the ACT is not only more prominent than the SAT, but is accepted by all universities across the country (Zhang). Whether or not eastern schools are biased toward the SAT is unknown, but there is very little evidence to support the claim.

The Key Difference

The SAT and ACT differ in many ways besides the number of test takers or areas of application. The different exam sections focus on varying topics. For instance, the ACT allows all questions to be answered with a calculator, while the SAT only allows a calculator on some portions of the test. This could be important for students with less confidence in their ability to solve more basic math problems. The ACT also has a dedicated science section centering on data analysis and scientific investigation. These aspects are important for many of the more analytically minded juniors and seniors. If they are skilled in these areas, they certainly have an edge entering the test, and those who are inclined to join engineering or math based programs in college tend want to show their affinity for the subject by displaying a high score on the ACT.

The Super Score

Another key difference between the SAT and the ACT is the ability to superscore. Superscoring is the ability to choose certain scores from each section on a college entrance exam and form a composite score of all your highest score subcategories. (Note that is is distinct from Score Choice, the chance to choose the highest score on one test from all test dates to send to colleges.) Roughly 200 schools superscore the ACT (Safier, Colleges That Superscore ACT: Complete List), while roughly 900 superscore the SAT (Safier, Which Colleges Superscore the SAT?) .

The Subject Test

Sometimes the SAT cannot be taken alone. An SAT subject test is a specialty exam that focuses on a specific skill that the regular SAT does not put emphasis on, ranging from Literature to US History to Latin. Some of the most elite universities recommend taking at least two SAT subject tests as well as the SAT, and a few even require it in the application process. However, many of these same universities will accept an ACT score in place of an SAT subject test, making it a suitable choice for those who want to be competitive in the admissions process without the added strain of studying for more exams.

Test Length

The SAT and ACT also vary in time length. The ACT has a time limit of 175 minutes (215 with optional essay), while the SAT has a limit of 180 minutes (230 with essay) (Lindsay). The SAT’s time limit is only slightly longer, but is fit for two sections rather than the three of the ACT. However, the SAT has five reading sections compared to the ACT’s four.

The Price of Knowledge

An important aspect to consider, especially for students who wish to take their test of choice multiple times, is cost. The ACT costs $103 to take ($120 with the essay), while the SAT is priced at a lesser $80 ($92 with essay) (Cheng). This is an important aspect for families under financial duress, particularly if they plan to superscore with multiple tests. There are opportunities for fee waivers, but many students do not wish to undergo the hassle or embarrassment of applying. Moreso, the SAT subject test carries a $26 registration fee, which would otherwise be eliminated if the ACT is chosen.  

What It Comes Down To

There are many reasons why standardized testing can be a poor reflection of one’s intellect or acquired knowledge, from test anxiety to poor preparation. No matter a student’s opinion on testing, chances are they will have to take some form of exam if they wish to continue to another level of education. There are certainly valid reasons to take one test over the other, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference. The more comfortable a student is with the test they are taking, the better scores they will receive.

Works Cited

Cheng, Allen. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” SAT Cost, ACT Cost, and How to  Save Money, blog.prepscholar.com/sat-cost-act-cost-and-how-to-save-money.

“Here Are the High School Classes That Prepare You for the SAT and ACT.” Prep | The Princeton Review, http://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/high-school-classes-prep-sat-act

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Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Colleges That Superscore ACT: Complete List, blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-that-superscore-act-complete-list.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Complete List: Colleges That Require SAT Subject Tests, blog.prepscholar.com/complete-list-of-colleges-that-require-sat-subject-tests.

Safier, Rebecca. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Which Colleges Superscore the SAT?, blog.prepscholar.com/which-colleges-superscore-the-sat.

Strauss, Valerie. “What Does the SAT Measure? Aptitude? Achievement? Anything?”The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Apr. 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/22/what-does-the-sat-measure-aptitude-achievement-anything/?utm_term=.af2f50a1611a.

Zhang, Dr. Fred. “SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips.” Do Colleges Accept ACT Takers as Much as SAT Takers? Is the ACT Disadvantaged?, blog.prepscholar.com/do-colleges-accept-act-takers-vs-sat-act-disadvantaged.