Differences between the SAT and the ACT

Many colleges accept either the SAT or ACT, therefore choosing the test that better suits your skills can
facilitate the process of applying to the right school for you. The SAT focuses on three sections while the ACT has four sections.

For the SAT these would be: Reading, Math, and Writing and Language.

For the ACT these would be: Reading, Math, English, and Science.

They differ in format but both offer an optional essay. Students that struggle with math may find the ACT significantly harder as it contains a
wider range of concepts, more questions regarding geometry and trigonometry, and the ACT does not give any formulas like the SAT does.

While the SAT may not cover as much content as the ACT, new changes to the SAT require that students only use a calculator for one section of the math test. The ACT on the other hand allows for a calculator for the whole test; if you rely heavily on calculators for your math, the ACT may be the better option for you. Knowledge of scientific terms and data can also give you an advantage on the ACT, as the science section factors in the ACT composite score and can lower or raise your overall score.

Furthermore, when it comes to reading both the SAT and ACT require attention to detail, but the SAT will give you a line number to refer to and questions proceed in chronological order, making the answers easier to find. The ACT focuses more on grammar while the SAT focuses on writing style, and the SAT tends to test more on vocabulary than the ACT. Finally, the ACT gives less time per question, so if you are a slow test taker you will probably want to avoid this test.

Keeping this in mind, if you are able to choose between the two, try to choose the one that best suits your needs.
April 6, 2017

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