Category Archives: SAT vs. ACT

07 Dec 2017

Choosing the SAT and ACT or to switch tests

You received the scores to your official SAT or ACT and it is not what you hope.  While this situation can be disappointing, is you took the standardized test early in the college application process, you may have time to retake it.

Now the question is should you retake the same one, or consider changing your focus and registering for the other college entrance exam instead?

Considerations to review before you decide.

  1. Avoid unnecessary testing: Taking both test offers no benefit. If you’ve taken a practice diagnostic test in both the SAT and the ACT and your scores are relatively similar, then stay the course and continue to focus on the test you just took or begin to focus on other elements of the college admissions process.
  2. Consider the causes of your low-than-expected scores: Why didn’t you achieve your score goal? Did you struggle with the exam content and format, or did circumstantial elements complicate matters?

Many factors can affect your testing performance, including anxiety, fatigue and illness. With illness, chances are slim that you would face the same challenge twice.

Extra preparation time before your next test date can reduce anxiety and fatigue.

If your poor performance was primarily due to circumstances or a lack of preparation, you should retake the same test. You will have less preparation to do, since you are already familiar with the format. You will also have a ready-made guide to which sections you should concentrate on studying.

  1. Compare test formats: With the recent redesign of the SAT, there is less separation between the two major college entrance exams, but there are still some differences.
  • The SAT has no dedicated science section – though science is included elsewhere on the SAT.
  • The SAT has a slightly different format for its math portion which does not allow students to use a calculator for the entire math section.
  • The ACT and SAT both have a big emphasis on  The ACT has a much larger focus on geometry and includestrigonometry, matrices, graphs of trig functions, and logarithms.
  • SAT reading questions are evidence-based, requiring students to cite specific lines and passages to support their answer choice.
  • The SAT and ACT require identical grammatical and writing skills for the English / Writing+Language sections, and for the essays. Not a single fact or concept is different on one test than on the other. If you learn all the material required for the SAT, you won’t need to learn a SINGLE new thing in order to get a perfect ACT score (and vice versa). It’s all a matter of strategy.
  1. Weigh your time constraints: Learning a new exam format and a fresh set of strategies can be time-consuming. Despite the similar content of the two exams, the different pace necessitates distinct answer-optimization strategies.

If you have two to three months available you have more options than only a few weeks until the next official tests.

In summary… Consider the causes of your poor performance, the differences between your test options and your available time before taking your next step.


02 Nov 2017



Don’t know whether to take the SAT or ACT?

We’ve been there before. High schoolers across America (and the globe) face this question every year.

An impressive score on either test goes a long way towards helping students get into the schools they want to attend. So, how do you know which test is better for you?

Sadly, there are no obvious answers. The best way to figure out the ACT vs. SAT conundrum is to take a practice test for both. If there is one you feel more comfortable with, then that’s the test you should take.

That being said, a quick comparison between the SAT and ACT, below, might help you understand the major differences between the two. There is also a quick nine question ACT vs. SAT quiz that will – through over-generalization and not very much data – tell you which standardized test is probably better suited to your strengths.

But before gleaning too much from the comparison and quiz, remember that there’s no substitute for taking a practice version of both tests! Happy reading.

What do these tests feel like? A logic and reasoning test A more objective, clear-cut test
How do these tests align with my skills? The SAT is often (not always) better suited for English/History types The ACT is often (not always) better suited for Math/Science types
What about math? Need to know Math up until Algebra II Need to know Math up until Trigonometry
Science? No Science on the SAT Yes Science on the ACT
Big Picture? The SAT requires more analytical thinking and logical reasoning The ACT asks more straight-forward questions and requires straight-forward answers
Where are these tests accepted? Everywhere Everywhere
Is there an essay? Yes, and it’s currently required. *After May 2016, it will be optional. Yes, but it’s optional
Is one better than the other? Should I take both? No, both are equals in the eyes of colleges. And no! You don’t need to take both.   

Still not sure which test to take? Maybe this quick, nine question quiz will help.