SAT vs. ACT

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

Many students and parents will wonder whether it’s best to take the SAT, ACT– or both! If you’ve been worrying about which test might be a better fit, your first step should be to take a full length practice diagnostic test under timed conditions for each test. That way, you can compare your scores, analyze which sections you did well and poorly on, and identify your strengths and weaknesses. You may find one a more natural fit or easier to get a higher score (or is required by your school), in which case you should probably concentrate your efforts on that test.

Do more people take ACT or SAT?

Overall the tests cover quite similar content and take a similar approach. In fact, after the SAT was updated in 2016, the tests became even more similar, so you can make the most of your study time while prepping for both. It’s more and more common for competitive students to take both exams.

What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?

In terms of topics covered, the most obvious difference is the ACT includes a science section. However, there are a variety of differences between the tests that might help you choose which one to focus your efforts on the most. Perhaps the most important difference is time pressure: on the SAT, you have quite a bit more time per question, so you will feel less of a time crunch even though the questions are actually more difficult. Because of the time pressure on the ACT, it’s possible you may not finish all the questions. If you don’t like science or want to reduce the quantitative element as much as possible, then the SAT may be the better choice, while if you have a firm grasp of scientific concepts and experimental design the ACT science section is a chance to shine.

Is SAT or ACT harder?

The SAT is the better test to take for those who dislike geometry, as ACT focuses much more heavily on this subject. If you are uncomfortable doing math without a calculator however, the ACT may be your preferred test as a calculator is allowed for all sections. When it comes to reading, the SAT may suit you better if you’ve got a great vocabulary as it still has more vocabulary-oriented questions. Passages are also marked with line numbers, so if you struggle to spot details, you may find the SAT easier. In contrast, if you sometimes have a hard time backing up your answer choices, the ACT may be best for you as the SAT has many questions that will ask you to point to evidence in the passage. The ACT will also please students who prefer question topics separated into different sections.

What is the difference between the ACT and SAT essays?

The ACT and SAT essays are also a bit different: the SAT essay does not require you to offer your own opinions on a topic, the task is to analyze how a writer constructs an argument. The ACT essay is a persuasive essay where you will need to argue and support your own point. Again, all of these small differences add up to a big reason why you should make taking diagnostic tests your very first step!

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