No college requires that a student take both the ACT and the SAT for admission, and the tradition has always been that a student applying to college opt to take one or the other.
For years, the SAT was THE test to take, especially for admission to Eastern colleges. Although the ACT was dominant in the South and Midwest, it was second-best.
However, things have changed. For the first time, in 2012 more students took the ACT than the SAT. The number of SAT test takers has not declined, but as the number of test takers in general has risen, more and more are taking the ACT. For one thing, 12 states now require and pay for students to take the ACT. Another reasos is more students who are applying to very selective schools are competing more seriously by trying to show high test scores on both tests.
For example, 8,000 students submitted both SAT and ACT scores for admission to Princeton last year, and Princeton admissions love it because having two scores gives them more information about their applicants. The same was true at schools like Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the University of California.
The whole process of college admissions testing is more stringent. Now most sophomores take the PSAT (for the SAT) and PLAN (for the ACT) to assess their aptitudes. The next year and a half is spent prepping for the tests with private tutors and in test prep courses. Finally, even after taking the tests, most plan to re-take, and retake again, the test to improve their scores. Juniors are spending many of their weekends, every weekend, with vocabulary lists and practice tests.
One this is for sure, a strategy and a plan for college admission testing is a must for students competing for college admission at more selective schools.