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.
But before gleaning too much from the comparison, 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 is on the ACT|
|How long is it?||3 hrs w/o essay 3 hrs. 50 mins w/ essay||2 hrs. 55 mins w/o essay 3 hrs. 35 mins w/ essay|
|What’s the format?||1. Reading: 65 mins. |
2. Writing & Lang.: 35 mins.
3. Math, No Calc: 25 mins.
4. Math, Calc: 55 mins.
5. Essay (optional): 50 mins.
|1. English: 45 mins.|
2. Math: 60 mins.
3. Reading: 35 mins.
4. Science: 35 mins.
5. Essay (optional): 40 mins.
|How many questions?||Reading: 52 questions|
Writing & Lang: 44 questions
Math, No Calc: 20 questions
Math, Calc: 38 questions
|English: 75 questions|
Math: 60 questions
Reading: 40 questions
Science: 35 questions
|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, but it’s optional||Yes, but it’s optional|
|Scoring||400 – 1600.|
Evidence-Based Reading/ Writing & Math sections use a scale of 200 – 800 and are combined for a total score.
|1 – 36. Each section uses a scale of 1 – 36 and all four sections are averaged together.|
|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.||No, both are equals in the eyes of colleges. And no! You don’t need to take both.|