Should I Take The ACT or SAT?

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Should I Take The ACT or SAT?


Many students in their junior or senior year of high school begin their college prep process by determining which standardized test is right for them. The important question remains: “should I take the SAT or the ACT?” Both exams are nationally recognized and, in some cases, a requirement for the college application process. The purpose of the SAT and the ACT are to gauge a students’ readiness for college. In order to determine which test is better suited for you, or if you should take both, it is important to understand the key differences between both standardized tests.

The SAT and the ACT are similar in a couple of ways. Both exams use “rights-only” scoring which simply means that students will not be penalized for incorrect answers. Even if you are unsure of the answer, it’s always in your best interest to take a guess and never leave anything blank. Both the SAT and ACT offer an optional essay section—both sections do not count towards the final test score and they contain similar sections that only appear once such as Reading and Math.

3 Key Differences To Consider

The first key difference that should be considered is the time allotted per question, The SAT gives students more time per question on all sections than the ACT does. The SAT has over 154 questions while the ACT features 215 questions. Individuals taking the SAT will have 1 minute and 10 seconds for each question while individuals taking the ACT are given 49 seconds for each question. Depending on which exam you take, you may find yourself practicing your time management skills to be completely prepared.

The second major difference between the SAT and the ACT is that one has a Science section. Although the SAT does include scientific concepts in questions across different sections of the test, the ACT offers a whole section dedicated to topics in Science. This section makes up one-fourth of your ACT score so if Science is not necessarily a strong suit of yours, you may opt for taking the SAT instead.

Lastly, the third key difference to consider when choosing between the SAT and the ACT is the significance of your Math score. On the ACT, your math score constitutes one-fourth of your total score but on the SAT, your math score will account for half of your total score. This means that your math score will be twice as important on the SAT than it is on the ACT. If you have difficulty with Math, choosing the ACT would be a better choice since a lower Math score on the ACT won’t negatively affect your total score as much as it would on the SAT.

Which Test Is Right For You?

Even after considering those fundamental differences between the SAT or the ACT, it can still be challenging when it comes to choosing between the two exams. The best way to find out which test is right for you is by taking official College Board practice exams as this will let you compare your scores and help you decide if you should choose one or the other, or even take both if your practice test scores seem to be the same.

Many students throughout the nation are taking both since there is no longer a geographical divide between test-takers as there once was. However, there is nothing wrong with preferring the SAT or the ACT if you truly believe you’ll excel at one better than the other!