Close

09/04/2019

what is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

QUESTION
what is the difference between the SAT and ACT?
Which is better to take, do all Colleges take the ACT?

Thanks

ANSWER
Hi Duge,

When your parents were applying to college, schools wanted one specific test score, but these days, most colleges will take either the SAT or the ACT. You should be fine with one or the other. However, top universities are likely to request that you take some SAT Subject Tests to submit in addition to the ACT score and SAT score.

To find out for sure, visit the admissions web page of the colleges in which you are interested.

If you excel in Math and Science, then the ACT might be your preferred test. If you are stronger in verbal skills, then the SAT may be easier for you.

The ACT contains a science section; the SAT does not. However, this science section is really just a combination of passage-based reading and data analysis (a math skill).

Both tests have math sections. The ACT math section tests some higher level concepts, and the questions are more reminiscent of the types of questions you are asked in math class. The SAT math section tests very basic concepts, but these questions are asked in a way that some students find difficult. It is really a test of critical thinking, and students who enjoy puzzles tend to do well on them.

Both tests have reading sections, and the passage-based reading is very similar on both tests. The SAT, however, has a “fill-in-the-blank” section that tests vocabulary and reasoning (you do not have to know the definition of every word to get them right).

The SAT has a required writing section, while the ACT has an optional writing section. The essays are similar; you must take a stance on an issue and cite relevant examples to support your viewpoint.

I personally think the SAT is easier. However, I am strong in verbal skills and I am coming at the test as an adult. SAT Math is easier for me because advanced concepts are not tested; as long as I know the basics of arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, I can figure out any SAT question.

I recommend checking out both tests by downloading the free practice tests at http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-practice-test and http://www.act.org/aap/pdf/preparing.pdf. Once you take these and score them, you’ll have a better idea of how difficult each test is and which one you should take officially.

Good luck!