What is the Difference Between the SAT and ACT?
Back when I was a high school student, I decided to take both the SAT and the ACT, because each test was required by at least one of my dream colleges. I didn’t know much about these college entrance exams when I began my journey, but during the process of preparing for them, I immediately noticed the stark differences. In this short guide, I plan to explain the differences between the ACT and SAT, in the hopes that it will help you during the college selection and application process.
The ACT is less time consuming
If you are like me, you don’t enjoy having to focus on one thing for an extended period. If you are impatient and have trouble focusing, I would say take the ACT, if you have a choice. The ACT lasts two hours and 55 minutes, and the SAT lasts three hours and 45 minutes. Also, if you have a learning disability, you might want to take the SAT, as research has proven that students with disabilities do better on the ACT. The writing section on the ACT is not required, while on the SAT it is necessary. If you are not a strong writer, I would suggest going with the ACT and waiving the writing section.
The SAT has a strong literacy focus, and the ACT focuses more on math and science
Literacy (vocabulary) is weighted more rigorously on the SAT than it is on the ACT, and several questions were created to make you read each passage several times to comprehend what you read. The ACT includes a science and math section that is meant to test your critical thinking and higher-level math skills. If you tend to perform well in language as opposed to math and vice versa, this information should help you decide which test you want to tackle.
Differences in the way each test is scored
The ACT is assessed on a scale of 1 to 36 based on average ratings from each of the four test sections. The SAT is assessed on a range of 600 to 2400, with a possible score of 200 to 800 on each of the three sections. The ACT only assesses the questions you get right, with no penalty for choosing the wrong answer. The SAT, on the other hand, deducts one-quarter of a point from your score each time you answer a question incorrectly. However, there is no penalty for items left blank.
The SAT is more complicated
The SAT focuses on reasoning and logic as opposed to content, which might be a good fight for students who think in a rational, analytical manner. The ACT is a good old fashioned content test, which may be useful for students who perform well in traditional school subjects.
Pro-Tip: remember to stay on top of your grades
I know that this article is about the difference between the SAT and ACT, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that getting into a good college requires an excellent GPA. So, make sure you stay on top of your grades all year long. If your school has a learning management system, use it to check your grades regularly. You can calculate your current GPA by inputting your class grades into this calculator, so you know how you’re doing academically, or how well you must do on upcoming exams and finals, especially if your grades are weighted by percentage.
To find out more about the SAT and ACT, visit their websites. Many four-year universities accept both exams, but you need to visit their admission’s department page to verify. Better yet, double-check by giving the universities admission’s department a call to confirm. Even better, also send them an email, so you have their answer in writing. Before you decide which test you want to tackle, take practice tests from both. I would choose the one that I am most comfortable with and attained a higher practice score on.
Well, that is it for this article. If you have any more questions about the SAT or ACT, just leave them in the comments below, and we will answer them.