Discover the key differences between the SAT and ACT college entrance exams. Learn which test is right for you in this comprehensive SAT vs ACT comparison.
SAT vs ACT Comparison: Differences Between the SAT and ACT Exams
Here’s a comparison table of the ACT and SAT tests:
|Why Take It||Used for college admissions in the US||Used for college admissions in the US|
|Test Structure||4 sections:||2 sections:|
|Time||2 hours 55 minutes (3 hours 40 minutes with essay)||3 hours|
|Reading||Emphasizes real-world reading skills and comprehension||Emphasizes vocabulary and complex reading passages|
|Science||Includes a separate science section||No separate science section|
|Math||Emphasizes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry||Emphasizes algebra, geometry, and data analysis|
|Calculator Policy||Calculators are allowed on all math sections||Calculators are allowed on one math section and not allowed on the other|
|Essays||Optional essay section||None (Since 2021, the SAT no longer offers an optional essay section.)|
|How It’s Scored||Composite score on a scale of 1-36, with separate scores for each section||Composite score on a scale of 400-1600, with separate scores for each section|
In summary, while both the ACT and SAT are used for college admissions in the US, they differ in their test structure, timing, content, and scoring. It’s important to research both exams and consider your strengths and weaknesses in the different subject areas before deciding which one to take. Additionally, you can use online resources such as practice tests and score calculators to help you prepare for the exam and estimate your potential score.
Should I Take the SAT or ACT Test?
Deciding whether to take the SAT or ACT can be a difficult decision, but there are several factors to consider that can help you make the best choice for your individual situation. Here are some factors to consider:
- College requirements: Check with the colleges you’re interested in to see which exam(s) they require or recommend. Some colleges may accept either exam, while others may have a preference.
- Test content: The SAT and ACT have different test structures and content. The SAT places more emphasis on vocabulary and complex reading passages, while the ACT focuses more on grammar and real-world problem-solving. Consider which exam aligns better with your strengths and interests.
- Timing: The SAT is longer than the ACT, so if you struggle with test-taking stamina, the ACT may be a better option.
- Math: Both exams cover similar math topics, but the SAT includes more advanced math concepts, such as trigonometry. If you’re strong in math, the SAT may be a good choice.
- Practice tests: Take practice tests for both exams to see which one you feel more comfortable with and perform better on.
Ultimately, the decision to take the SAT or ACT depends on your individual strengths and the requirements of the colleges you’re interested in. It’s also important to prepare well for the exam, whether through a test prep course, private tutoring, or self-study. Online resources such as practice tests, score calculators, and study guides can also be helpful in preparingfor the exam.
If you’re still unsure which exam to take, consider taking both to see which one you perform better on. Many colleges accept either exam and will consider your highest score.
Also Read: How to Get a Good Score on The ACT
When to Take the SAT or ACT?
The best time to take the SAT or ACT depends on several factors, including your personal goals and the requirements of the colleges you’re interested in. Here are some general guidelines to consider:
College application deadlines:
Check the application deadlines for the colleges you’re interested in and plan to take the SAT or ACT well in advance of those deadlines. It’s recommended to take the test at least once during your junior year of high school and, if necessary, again early in your senior year.
The SAT and ACT are typically offered several times throughout the year. Check the test dates and plan to take the test on a date that works well with your schedule and gives you enough time to prepare.
Give yourself ample time to prepare for the exam, whether through a test prep course, private tutoring, or self-study. It’s recommended to start preparing for the exam at least several months in advance to give yourself enough time to review all the content and take practice tests.
Consider your personal goals and timeline for college admissions. If you plan to apply early decision or early action to a college, you may need to take the SAT or ACT earlier than the regular application deadline.
Keep in mind that you can retake the SAT or ACT multiple times if necessary. If you’re not satisfied with your initial score, plan to retake the test to try to improve your score.
In summary, the best time to take the SAT or ACT is during your junior year of high school, with enough time to prepare and retake the test if necessary. Be sure to check the application deadlines for the colleges you’re interested in and plan to take the test well in advance of those deadlines. Additionally, consider your personal goals and timeline for college admissions, and give yourself enough time to prepare for the exam through test prep courses, tutoring, or self-study.
SAT ACT Score Conversion
The following sat vs act score comparison table showing SAT score ranges and their corresponding ACT equivalents:
|SAT Score||ACT Equivalent|
|1600 – 1570||36|
|1560 – 1530||35|
|1520 – 1490||34|
|1480 – 1450||33|
|1440 – 1420||32|
|1410 – 1390||31|
|1380 – 1360||30|
|1350 – 1330||29|
|1320 – 1300||28|
|1290 – 1260||27|
|1250 – 1230||26|
|1220 – 1200||25|
|1190 – 1160||24|
|1150 – 1130||23|
|1120 – 1100||22|
|1090 – 1060||21|
|1050 – 1030||20|
|1020 – 990||19|
|980 – 960||18|
|950 – 920||17|
|910 – 880||16|
|870 – 830||15|
|820 – 780||14|
|770 – 730||13|
|720 – 690||12|
|680 – 650||11|
|640 – 620||10|
|610 – 590||9|
In conclusion, the decision between taking the SAT or ACT should be based on individual strengths and preferences. Both tests have their unique features and it’s important to understand the differences and similarities between them before making a decision. Ultimately, it’s recommended to take practice tests for both exams to determine which one suits you better. Remember, the SAT and ACT scores are just one part of the college application process, so focus on doing your best and showcasing your strengths in all aspects of your application.