MYTH: ACT / SAT Questions Are Ordered By Difficulty

Flickr user Claus Rebler

With many tests, questions are generally ordered from easiest to most difficult. It’s easy to make the assumption that the ACT and SAT would be similar, but that’s not necessarily the case with these entrance exams.

Randomized Questions

For the most part, the ACT and SAT questions fall in a randomized level of difficulty. You might start off with the hardest question and end with a no-brainer.

However (and this may be where the core of this myth comes from), there can be an increase in difficulty within a question type. For example, if there is a reading passage, the questions that relate to that particular passage may ramp up the difficulty subsequently. But that’s within a contained section.

Difficulty Depends on the Student

What students find “difficult” will entirely depend on them. One student may fight the trigonometry questions easier in the math section of the ACT, while another can’t even begin to answer. It depends on where a student’s academic strengths lie. One student might breeze through the Reading portion without a hitch, but stumble every other question when it comes to Science.

A Word of Warning

In essence, while it’s possible that there’s a slight increase in difficulty as the test goes on—or within a question section—it’d be a mistake to think you can ease into the test with gentle questions first. Prepare yourself for a mix bag.

Check out how your ACT / SAT score affects your college acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool.

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