Is the ACT or SAT Easier?

Junior year is the time to start thinking about the ACT and SAT, so you might be asking, “which is easier, the ACT or SAT?” You might be a bit surprised by the answer.

Two pencils on a desk next to a gray boolet.

It Depends

There is no straightforward answer to the question “Is the ACT or SAT easier?” It actually depends… on you. The ACT and SAT, although similar, also have noticeable differences. They are scored differently, are different lengths, and, most importantly, cover different topics.

The ACT tests English, math, reading, and science, with an optional writing section. The SAT, however, includes questions on critical reading and math (also with an optional writing section).

You Need to Think About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

To determine which of the two is best for you, you need to carefully weigh your strengths and weaknesses. The most noticeable differences between the tests are the type of math and science sections found in the ACT exam. How well do you do in those courses?

If math is a strong point for you, the ACT could be a better option for you. Something to note is that the ACT covers geometry, trigonometry, matrices, and algebra. The SAT leans more towards just algebra and provides you with any must-know formulas at the start of the test. 

And, of course, science needs to be mentioned, as it’s not on the SAT at all. Here, you will need to understand scientific language, charts, and graphs to excel on the ACT. So, if you do well in these two subjects, you may find that you will do better on the ACT.

How Do You Tell Which Is Better?

One of the best ways to determine which is easier for you is to take a practice exam of each. Your initial score will help you understand which of the tests best fits your needs. Be sure to take them like the real deal too – follow the time constraints, don’t flip between sections, don’t check your phone for answers, and try not to be interrupted. This will work to give you an accurate idea of how well you’ll perform when you actually take the test (as well as where you can improve!).

You can also talk to a trusted teacher or guidance counselor to see if they have any advice on which would be the better option for you. They can look at your grades, as well as skills to help you make the decision if you’re still stuck, even after you’ve taken both practice exams.

Another option is to take both! However, this route has some pros and cons to consider, and it’s not for everyone. You’ll need to weigh them before choosing to take both the SAT and ACT, as it could backfire if it’s not the right option for you.

Although it’s a common question, there is no quick and easy answer to “Is the ACT or SAT easier?” It really takes some reflection into your own strengths and weaknesses to determine your individual answer!

Want to see how your ACT and SAT scores affect your personalized college acceptance odds? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool!