ACT vs. SAT: Which One is Right for You | Winward Academy


ACT vs. SAT: What are the differences?

ACT vs. SAT – what’s the difference between the two tests? It’s the question Winward Academy founder Dr. Jennifer Winward hears all the time – both from students and from their parents.  Of course, what most people really want to know is – which test should I (or my college-bound kid) take?

Like many of life’s questions, the correct answer is… it depends. Sorry. The truth is there’s no simple response because it comes down to personal style. Here are a few of the major differences to think about.

Math: Are you the kind of person who uses a calculator, no matter what? If so, put a checkmark in the ACT column, because the SAT only allows their use on some (but not all) of the questions. That’s a biggie for a lot of people, but there’s a tradeoff…

Time per question: simply put, the SAT gives you more of it. So, if you like a more leisurely pace, the SAT has the edge. On the other hand, if you’re able to stay focused and work quickly under pressure, the ACT might be a better fit. 

And then there are the essays. Both exams have an essay section, but there’s a key difference. On the ACT, students are asked to present and support their own original argument. The SAT, however, asks students to critique existing arguments in their essay. Think about what comes more naturally to you.

Those are just a few of the major differences. For a full breakdown – including number of total questions, months offered, and time allowed, check out this comparison chart.

So, as you can see, we weren’t lying. It really does depend. The good news is that because colleges accept either the ACT or the SAT, students should simply take the exam they’re better at.

You: “Wait, I’m afraid to ask. How do I figure out which test I’m better at?”

Us: “Well, you take practice exams of each.”

You: “Nooooo!”

We know, we know. There are more pleasant ways to spend eight hours, but only by taking and scoring both tests will you get a sense of where your scores fall on the curve. And that’s really what it comes down to. For example, if you’re in the top 15% on the ACT and the top 25% on the SAT, focus on studying for the ACT. You won’t regret it.

No matter what exam you choose, feel confident in knowing that Winward Academy has the tools and expertise to help you prepare and thrive when the big day arrives.

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About Winward Academy – Winward Academy is one of the world’s leading innovators in the online education space, providing web-based academic support that enhances students’ knowledge, confidence, and competitiveness in middle and high school academics and in college applications. We help thousands of students every year by providing personalized, comprehensive ACT and SAT test preparation and extensive math curriculum support. The Winward Academy learning platform honors over 40 years of education and cognitive psychology research, incorporating proven techniques that promote effective learning.

Winward Academy’s unmatched reputation is wholly attributable to our students’ exceptional success and to the trust earned among students, parents, and schools around the world.

Mike Krumboltz

Mike Krumboltz is a journalist who also writes fiction. He holds an MFA in creative writing and lives in Oakland with his wife and daughters.

2 responses to “ACT vs. SAT: What are the differences?

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