WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Am I a pretty good reader? ACT
Do I excel at critical thinking? SAT
Am I good at reading graphs and charts? ACT
Do I like history? SAT
Do I like science? ACT
Do I have strong vocabulary skills? SAT
Is my math level up to geometry and some trig? ACT
Can I handle algebra and data analysis? SAT
Both take about the same amount of time. However, with the new optional writing sections, the SAT is about 10 minutes longer.
For reading sections
* SAT allows 13 minutes per passage/answer questions
# ACT allows 8 ½ minutes
Did you know that you can apply for Extra Time?
If you have a special need or circumstance, you can apply ahead for additional test taking time. Make a request through your school counselor. Documentation of a learning challenge or special circumstance must be submitted for both the ACT and SAT. In speaking to school counselors and school psychologists, extra time is generally more difficult to obtain from ACT than SAT. SAT is more generous in providing extra time to students with learning challenges and special needs.
* SAT covers reading (science and history are included within some of the readings), English/language, math, optional essay
# ACT covers reading, English, math, and a specific science section, optional essay
Overall Number of Questions:
ACT has more questions than the SAT
*The new SAT is going back to 400-1600
#ACT is 1-36
What they test?
*SAT overall is more challenging language, requires strong skills in evidence support, reasoning skills and analyzing specific details. It does include graphs and charts.
*SAT tests more complex vocabulary and requires the student to use contextual skills to obtain meanings of words.
# ACT tests overall reading comprehension and focuses more on the main ideas of passages, some inferencing skills required.
# ACT tests more nuances of words, as they are used in a sentence and they are not as challenging.
* SAT requires some analysis, but covers the same material as the ACT
# ACT focuses on usage (grammar skills) and specific mechanics (punctuation)
# ACT has a dedicated science section. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in science, but it does require good reading comprehension skills and skill in reading charts and graphs.
* SAT has become more straight forward like the ACT
* SAT has a section that allows you to use a calculator and one that does not
* SAT is focuses heavy on Algebra, data analysis and very little geometry
# ACT focuses more on geometry and trig
# ACT allows you to use a calculator, but it is not required nor necessary
Writing section is optional for both
*SAT requires the student to read, analyze and write without stating their opinion
# ACT wants the student to analyze and provide their own creative examples and offer their opinion.
Did you know that more and more colleges are choosing to go test optional?
Since some research points to test scores as not a real indicator of college readiness, some colleges have made the decision to do away SAT and ACT scores as part of their application process. Take a look at the list of schools that are test optional...
I always recommend that students take a free practice test in both the ACT and SAT at your local prep center and decide which is the best fit given your learning style. With that said, these tests are important and take the test that you score higher on and more importantly---that you are comfortable sitting for!