What is the difference between the SAT and the ACT, or the GRE and the GMAT? Do bilingual students still have to take TOEFL? Is the SSAT related to the SAT? With education comes a slew of dizzying acronyms that can confuse the savviest of test-takers, but experts are on hand to help you sort through the alphabet soup of entrance exams. Studying for a college entrance exam is stressful enough without having to agonise over which test to take. The similarities of the College Board-administered SAT and Everett Franklin Lindquist's ACT have confused many high-school students applying to colleges in the United States, and only a few know the trick to choosing the one that will best represent their strengths during the admissions process. Some of the major differences between the two tests include the science test, required for the ACT, and the SAT's mandatory essay. There is also the matter of the 'geographical divide' in that the SAT is the dominant test on the west coast and eastern seaboard, while the ACT is preferred in Midwestern and Southern states. However, Joan Yee, executive director of The Princeton Review Hong Kong, said that since most colleges accepted both tests, the deciding factor came down to the different scoring systems. 'The way the SAT adds up the sub-scores favours students who do relatively well on all subjects,' she said. 'On the other hand, the ACT takes the average of all sub-scores, so students who are stronger in certain subjects may ... [get] a better score on the ACT.' Another area of uncertainty for local students, particularly those who grew up bilingual or are studying in international schools, is the option of taking TOEFL. Given that both the SAT and ACT contain reading and writing sections, 'the question remains whether students still have to take the TOEFL if they have already taken the SAT or ACT', Ms Yee said. While some colleges may waive TOEFL, given a high score on the SAT reading and writing sections, and others admit students without a TOEFL score as long as they graduate with an IB diploma, most students are not 100 per cent certain which colleges they will be applying to and what requirements those colleges have. At the end of the day, Ms Yee still recommends that students take TOEFL regardless of their fluency in English. Despite the similarity in names, the SSAT is not related to the SAT and is not administered by the College Board. The exam is used by most US boarding, military and private secondary schools while a similar test, the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), is generally used for private middle and high schools. 'Most Hong Kong students take the SSAT instead of the ISEE,' Ms Yee said. Graduate level entrance exams are more clear cut. The GRE and GMAT are both widely used in Hong Kong as an admissions requirement to graduate schools, but the GMAT is designed specifically for undergraduates applying for an MBA degree, while the GRE is a more general test for graduate programmes.