4 Differences Between The ACT and SAT

As many know the process of applying for college is not an easy process. However, a good first step towards your college application would be to decide on which standardized test you’ll be taking. The two tests to pick from are the ACT or the SAT. Of course you can always take both, but it is not required. So which test should you decide to take?

Here are some of the major differences to hopefully make this decision easier.

Test Structure – though there are only slight differences they could make or break you on reasons to take either of the tests. The ACT is comprised of five sections: English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, and Essay. The SAT is comprised of four sections: Reading, Writing and Language, Math, and an Essay. Along with a difference in sections there is also a difference in overall style of the test. The ACT is generally more straightforward with its questions. Even if questions are long they tend to come across as less difficult to comprehend. The SAT is based on questions that make an effort to focus on real-world situations and involve multi-step problem-solving. A good idea is to evaluate your skills in the classroom based on these diverse subjects especially between math and science. Increased skills in science and or math can help you decide which test you will take.

Math Section and Calculator Policy – Both tests have math sections however there is a difference in calculator usage between tests. While the SAT has two math sections, one without a calculator and one with, the ACT has only one math section with calculator.  SAT math contains arithmetic, problem-solving and data analysis, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry with formulas provided. ACT is more standard with arithmetic, algebra 1 and 2, functions, geometry, and trigonometry without formulas. Being that math is definitively NOT a favored subject this is definitely something worth noting.

Scores – Scoring has to be the biggest difference between the tests. ACT is based on a score from 1-36. The SAT is based on a score between 400-1600, or 2400 if you add up the essay portion.

When choosing between tests it would be best to try practice tests of both to better understand their testing styles. You can do this through any test tutoring services available both online or in the classroom.