Heritage Oak School

12/06/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/06/2018 00:23

What's the difference between SAT, ACT and CLT exams?

College preparation can be an overwhelming process and there are so many things to consider. One of them is the college entrance exams - which one is better, how do you prepare for them, and what score is good? A new entrance exam was introduced in 2015 that now gives students another option from the SAT and ACT. The Classic Learning Test (CLT) combines reading comprehension, grammar and mathematics into a 2 hour exclusively online package.

Now accepted by over 125 colleges and universities, the CLT is continually added as an approved entrance examespecially for renowned liberal arts colleges, particularly those which focus on great works (such as St John's College) or Christian universities (such as the Master's College). Offered 5 Saturdays a year at different schools scattered throughout the country, this test serves as an alternative to the more mainstream SAT and ACT. This exciting new test has some important differences with the SAT and ACT. One test taker indicated that she did not feel the CLT was tricky. She comments:

'The CLT wasn't a trap! It was actually refreshing in comparison to the ACT. It was obvious to me that the goal of the CLT was to cultivate truth, beauty, and goodness in a student. It was a fun test.'

First, the SAT and ACT pull most of their passages from modern literature and are tests designed to evaluate 'value neutral' reading comprehensions. Any text which directly addresses religion or religious claims will not be present on the ACT or SAT. In contrast, the CLT reading passages are drawn from the canon of western literature with 'contributors' such as Aristotle, C.S. Lewis and Bonhoeffer. Students who have undergone a rigorous classical education, such as those at Heritage Oak, will likely have some advantage as the methods of evaluating the arguments are present throughout the curriculum. Even better, many of the works will have been read previously and not be foreign to students. Importantly, however, students who have not had a classical education still can score well on this test because it evaluates a test taker's ability to evaluate and improve arguments.

Second, there are some important test taking differences. The CLT does not permit calculators. Instead, the test provides proofs and theorems which are then applied by test takers without calculators. Without the added burden of calculator use, a more streamlined test taking experience emerges. This test helps ensure participants are able to mentally manipulate numbers quickly. Additionally, unlike the ACT, test takers are not penalized for guessing.

Third, the CLT demonstrates aptitude rather than achievement through its approach to scoring. The highest scores on the CLT have yet to be achieved, but a rough correlation between these 3 tests has emerged. Because it is not an achievement test, the scores do not need to be normalized, so they are available same day. Unlike the CLT, the SAT and ACT scores are dependent on the performance of all test takers per test day. The CLT score is an absolute score not relative to the performance of one's peers. The very scoring of the CLT reflects its design as an aptitude not an achievement test.

Fourth, the CLT's grammar section is focused on correcting and evaluating great works. The grammar section provides test takers the opportunity to clarify an author (say a translation of Plato's theme) through improving the word choice or syntax of a particular passage. Compared with ACT, the CLT's grammar correction section is significantly more complex and requires higher level thought versus simple noun-verb agreement.

In short, the CLT provides a better testing experience aimed at test takers and parents frustrated with value neutral education. The focus on aptitude rather than achievement means classically educated students not familiar with the passages can perform well without spending tremendous money on test preparation courses. This upstart new test has the potential to vastly improve the college application process through its approach to measuring aptitude and provides a valuable alternative to the notorious SAT and ACT.

If your high schooler is interested in taking the CLT, Tehachapi's own Heritage Oak School is a test site for the community. You can register to take this exam on the CLT website: