ACT vs. SAT: Which is Easier for College Admissions?


When it comes to college admissions, one of the most significant decisions students face is choosing between the ACT and SAT standardized tests. Both tests are widely accepted by colleges and universities across the United States, but students often wonder, “ACT vs. SAT, which is easier?” As St. Louis tutoring professionals, we will compare the two exams in terms of their content, structure, and difficulty to help you make an informed decision for your college application journey.

ACT vs. SAT: Content Comparison

To determine which test is easier, it’s essential to understand the content they cover. The ACT consists of four main sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science, with an optional essay. On the other hand, the SAT has three primary sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (combining reading and writing), Math, and an optional essay. While both tests assess math and reading skills, the ACT includes a dedicated science section, making it distinct from the SAT.

Math Sections: ACT Math vs. SAT Math

Both the ACT math and SAT math have their unique characteristics. The ACT math section focuses on a broader range of topics, including trigonometry and geometry. In contrast, the SAT Math section primarily assesses algebra and data analysis. Some students find the ACT Math section more challenging due to its broader scope, while others may prefer the SAT’s narrower focus.

Reading and English Sections: ACT English vs. SAT Reading

For the reading and English sections, the ACT and SAT both evaluate your comprehension and grammar skills. However, the ACT Reading section has more questions and requires you to answer them more quickly than the SAT Reading section. Some students may find the ACT Reading section’s time constraints challenging. The ACT English section assesses your grammar and punctuation knowledge, while the SAT Writing and Language section focuses on improving sentences, paragraphs, and passages.

Science and Optional Essay: ACT Science vs. SAT Essay

One significant difference between the ACT and SAT is the ACT Science section, which is not present in the SAT. The ACT Science section tests your ability to interpret and analyze scientific data and graphs. Additionally, the ACT offers an optional essay, while the SAT provides an optional essay as well. Deciding whether to take the essay may depend on the specific requirements of your target colleges.

Test Day and Scoring: ACT Test vs. SAT Test Score

The ACT and SAT have varying scoring systems, making it essential to understand how each test calculates your final score. The ACT uses a composite score, averaging your scores across all four required sections. The SAT provides separate scores for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections, with a total score combining these two. Test-takers should consider their strengths and weaknesses when choosing between the two tests.

In the end, whether the ACT or SAT is easier for you depends on your strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. It’s crucial to take practice tests for both exams to determine which one suits you better. Additionally, consider the requirements of your target colleges and the sections in which you excel. Remember that both tests can be prepared for effectively with diligent study and practice. Ultimately, your performance on either test should reflect your best abilities and demonstrate your readiness for college admission.


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