ACT, SAT, or Both?
ACT, SAT, or Both?
The ACT is the test for you!
The ACT is designed to be approachable and straightforward, so it’s a great test for students willing to put in time and effort to do practice sections and learn from their mistakes. The English section mostly tests punctuation rules, usage, and mechanics, so mastering those concepts goes a long way to improving your score. Unlike the SAT Math, the ACT Math section is all multiple choice, and you can use a calculator on all the questions. Math questions are also written in a much more direct way on the ACT. Reading and Science are straightforward but you have to practice your time management because you need to be super focused and move quickly through those sections to find the answers in the passage, figures, or tables. The ACT Writing section asks you to present your own argument on a topic relevant to teenagers. Both the ACT and SAT have optional writing sections, so you need to check with the colleges where you plan to apply to see if the writing section is needed. Learn more
The SAT is the test for you!
The SAT questions tend to require more logical reasoning to answer questions. The SAT Reading section requires strong comprehension skills and will ask you to solve more intricate questions about rhetoric and evidentiary support (the ACT Reading tends to focus more on details in the text, inferences, and main ideas). The Writing and Language section tests the exact same content as the ACT English in 44 questions instead of 75 questions. With fewer questions, the SAT will require students to fix more than one grammar issue within a single question. SAT Math gives more time per question than the ACT Math, so students who appreciate more time in math will appreciate this difference. However, the SAT Math has a calculator and non-calculator section and also requires both multiple choice and grid-in (where students write in the answer they solve). The SAT Essay asks students to critique the persuasiveness of an author by assessing evidence used and the quality of the argument. Both the ACT and SAT have optional writing sections, so you need to check with the colleges where you plan to apply to see if the writing section is needed. Learn more
No strong preference for one or the other
After the SAT redesigned itself in 2016, the reality is that the tests became much more similar, and now more than ever students show less of a strong preference for one over the other. Both tests require grammar skills, strong reading comprehension, and the ability to interpret charts, graphs, and tables. What it really comes down to is timing) and how you like to solve problems. The SAT gives a little more time per question and requires more logical reasoning, while the ACT is more straightforward and approachable. Those comfortable doing math with or without a calculator gravitate toward the SAT. Strong readers who work well under time pressure may do better on the ACT. You could do well on either, so the best decision is to explore both exams. Take a timed practice of each one and compare your baseline scores and see if you have a preference. Keeping your options open means you’ll have less stress and more options when it comes time for college apps.