SAT vs ACT: Which Test is Right for You?

 

Colleges accept both tests equally so the choice is up to you!  It is recommended that students should take BOTH the SAT and ACT at the end of their junior year, and then retake at least one of the exams again at the beginning of their senior year.

 

 

SAT

ACT

Why Take It

Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships

Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships

Test Structure

Math

Reading

Writing and Language

Essay (optional)

Math

Reading

English

Science

Essay (optional)

Length

3 hours (without essay)

3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)

2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)

3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

Reading

5 reading passages

4 reading passages

Science

None

1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)

Math

Covers:

Arithmetic

Algebra I & II

Geometry, Trigonometry, and Data Analysis

Covers:

Arithmetic

Algebra I & II

Geometry and Trigonometry

Tools

Some math questions don’t allow you to use a calculator

You can use a calculator on all math questions.

Essays

Optional.  The essay will test your comprehension of a source text.

Optional.  The essay will test how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues.

 
 
 

 

The Differences Between the New SAT and ACT

The New SAT, which launched on March 5th of 2016, is basically a carbon copy of the ACT – it was designed to be just that.  The two tests have far more commonalities than differences, so let’s list the few things that set them apart:

The New SAT doesn’t have a science section.The “science” section of the ACT tests critical thinking skills, not specific science knowledge.
 
The essays are different. Both tests come with optional essays. The ACT essay asks you to come up with your own argument and support it, while the New SAT essay asks you to evaluate an argument that someone else has already written for you. Neither is easier or harder – it’s just an issue of personal preference.
 
The New SAT has a few fill-in-the-blank math problems, and half of the math problems don’t allow calculator use.The ACT lets you use a calculator on all its math problems, and all the answers are multiple choice. The New SAT has a “with calculator” and “without calculator” section, and 13 of its problems force you to fill in your own answer. The “without calculator” problems aren’t difficult because they don’t require any difficult arithmetic, so it’s not that much of an issue.
 
The New SAT is far less “time intensive.” This is the big issue that really separates the two exams. The New SAT gives you far more time per problem, so it’s a much less intense testing experience. Alternatively, the ACT makes you go at a blisteringly fast pace. So if you need some more time to consider your answers, the New SAT is going to be your friend. If you can plow through questions and are super focused, then the ACT should be your exam of choice.
 

Aside from those differences, the tests are practically identical. The material tested is the same. The formatting is basically the same. They both test your knowledge of math, English grammar, and reading comprehension. They both take 3-4 hours to complete.

Adapted from: https://greentestprep.com/resources/sat-prep/new-sat-vs-act/                                                                                                                                           Christine Kesling 8/2016

Please use this link for more information on the SAT and ACT, including testing dates and registration deadlines: