ACT or SAT? Test at Your Best!

Navya Jayaprakash
Edited by Roger Yang
Published on
July 3, 2023

When it comes to taking tests for college admissions, students have a tough decision to make—deciding between the SAT and the ACT—two of the most preferred standardized tests accepted by four-year universities in the United States. This is of course if they want to submit test scores at all, as many colleges now have the option to apply as test optional. Whichever one you choose to take, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each test, so you can pick the best fit for you!

The SAT is generally considered to be a better test for students with strong analytical and reading comprehension skills. . The SAT offers a rigorous testing period by covering math topics such as algebra, geometry, and data analysis. It also emphasizes grammar, organizational skills, and vocabulary knowledge. The advantage of the SAT is that it is a fairly straightforward test, which means that students can become familiar with the structure and content of the test in advance. Most test-takers tend to have trouble on the reading section, but if you’re good at math, you can still score high! There is no strict limit to how many times you can retake the exam, but it’s also important to note that you can superscore based on individual scores you received on certain sections of different SATs. This gives you an even greater chance at achieving the score you want.

The ACT, on the other hand, is better suited for students who think more concretely and understand mathematical reasoning. The ACT focuses on science and math concepts, including trigonometry and some more advanced math concepts. The reading section tends to be easier than that of the SAT, but also has a separate science section of reading passages. Unlike the SAT, the ACT is marked on a more lenient grading scale which allows for some wiggle room if a student makes small mistakes. The disadvantage of the ACT is that it requires more effort and comprehension to understand all the content being tested.

Whether you choose the SAT or ACT, standardized testing can in general be stressful. Don’t feel disheartened by your first score on an exam if it doesn’t reach your goal. The earlier you start preparing, the more time you have to improve! You might even realize that test-taking isn’t for you and go test optional. The good thing about college admissions and standardized testing today is that they are giving you more freedom to choose!

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