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ACT vs. SAT: What’s the Difference?

ACT vs. SAT: What’s the Difference?

Many of you may be wondering if you should take either the ACT or the SAT college entrance exam. To help you make that decision, here are some factors about each test and the important differences.

The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary. If you have an excellent vocabulary and know all of those ‘roots,’ ‘prefixes,’ and ‘suffixes,’ you will probably prefer the SAT. If you know vocabulary isn’t your strong point academically, you may do better on the ACT.

ACT questions tend to be more straightforward. Questions asked on the ACT are usually easier to understand the first time you read them. However, on the SAT, you may need to spend more time analyzing what is being asked before you start answering the question.

The ACT tests more advanced match concepts. Both tests evaluate your skills on algebra I, II, and geometry, but the ACT also tests your knowledge of trigonometry. However, the ACT Math section is not necessarily more difficult because many students find the questions more straightforward as mentioned in the previous difference.

The ACT Writing Test is optional on your test day, but required by many schools. For the SAT, the essay is required and is factored into your writing score. The ACT is an optional test and if you do write the essay, it is not included in your composite score as schools will see it listed separately. Be aware that many colleges now require the ACT Writing Test so make sure you check with the colleges you are applying to before deciding not to write the essay.

The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not. Even though the ACT has a Science section, you will actually be tested on your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. So even if you aren’t particularly good in science, you don’t have to worry about specific scientific facts.

The SAT is broken up into more sections. The ACT  focuses on the content areas of English, Math, Reading, and Science in one big chunk, with the optional writing test at the end. The SAT focuses on Critical Reading, Math, and Writing and is broken up into ten sections, with the ‘required’ essay at the beginning.

Finally, remember that the ACT is more focused on your overall composite score, while the SAT is usually looked at on how well you did in each section.

Good luck on either exam you decide to take. And also note that you can take both exams.  Part of the service we provide is educating you on which test you will need to take and how best to prepare for it.