How To Choose Between The ACT And SAT

A two way road sign

Flickr user TireZoo

Colleges today accept both the ACT and SAT, which is great news because you can choose which test to take depending on your subject strengths and your test taking abilities.

Ask yourself these questions when trying to decide whether to take the ACT or the SAT:

Do You Have a Strong Foundation in Math?

Math – you either love it or hate it. Some students excel in math and use their strong math skills to get high scores in school and in standardized tests. For other students, math is that one subject that gives them nightmares and pulls their scores down, whether in school or when answering standardized tests. Which category do you come under?

While both tests have math sections featuring questions on basic math, geometry, algebra and trigonometry, there is a difference in the way that you are allowed to answer them.

The SAT gives you the formulas, making this a better option for you if you struggle with math. There is a section where you can use a calculator, and one where you can’t.

The ACT does not give you the formulas. With this test, you have to memorize the formulas and recognize when to apply the different equations. However, you can use the calculator on the test.

Do You Have a Strong Foundation in Science?

A crucial difference between the ACT and the SAT is that the ACT has a section that asks science-based questions, while the SAT does not have a science section. This is a major deciding factor.

If you are passionate about all things science and have solid knowledge of physics, biology, and earth science, taking the ACT will help you play to your strengths and score high marks. Keep in mind though, that in addition to being knowledgeable about the theoretic aspects, you must also have a strong understanding of scientific hypotheses and be able to interpret graphs and charts.

However the ACT won’t be testing specific scientific knowledge, but rather your ability to interpret data and navigate the scientific method.

How are Your Reading Skills?

With the ACT, you get approximately 50 seconds to answer each question. But, the shorter time is offset by the fact that the reading passages are written at a 9th grade level. If you can pay attention while reading fast, you can do very well on the ACT reading section.

With the SAT reading section, you get about 1 minute 10 seconds to answer each question. Although this seems like a better option, you should know that the passages can range from 9th grade level to early college level. The SAT may be a good option for you if you are a have strong comprehension and critical analysis skills.

Finally…Take a Practice Test for Each Exam

Taking a practice test for each of the exams and comparing the scores is the best way to determine whether you will fare better in the ACT or the SAT. That way you’ll know what you’re getting into and know how to study for the real deal.

Check out how your ACT/SAT score affects your acceptance odds with College Raptor!

College Raptor Staff

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