The ACT and SAT are both standardized tests that measure your college readiness. Each test is pivotal in the college admission process but some may find it hard to see the similarities and differences between the two. The ACT and SAT differ in test structure, content, and strategy – which can make it hard to know if you’re better off taking one or the other.
Educators suggest that students take a full-length practice test of both to see which one feels more comfortable and which questions are challenging. This can give a better understanding of how to approach each exam and which is best suited for their learning style.
Some students may feel more comfortable on the SAT exam, while others find that they excel on the ACT exam. If you are unsure which test you should take, take a free practice test to determine which one is a good fit.
When are they offered?
If you want to take the ACT or the SAT, you can register at any time of the year. The ACT is offered 6 times a year in February, April, June, July, September, and October and the SAT is offered 7 times a year in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. The exact dates and locations vary, so do your research ahead of time to find the best testing schedule for you!
What is the Difference Between the ACT and SAT?
For high school students looking to attend college, one of the most important steps in the application process is taking a standardized test. The two most common tests used for college admissions are ACT and the SAT, making their role in the admissions process very important. These exams serve as a measure of academic readiness and are widely accepted by colleges and universities across the United States.
While the ACT and SAT have many similarities, there are also key differences between the two tests that can affect a student’s score and impact their college application process. In this article, we’ll explore the various differences between the ACT and SAT, from test structure to content and scoring.
How is their Test Structure Different?
Both the ACT and SAT evaluate reading, writing, math, and science skills, but the structure of the exams differs in several important ways. One significant difference is that the ACT is an achievement test, while the SAT is more of a reasoning test. This means that the ACT measures a student’s mastery of school curriculum-based skills, while the SAT focuses on critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
In terms of test format, the SAT reading test is an essay-based test, while the ACT reading test focuses more on reading comprehension and question-based sections. The ACT math section also allows students to use calculators for the entire time, contrary to the SAT math section. Due to the SAT math test being broken into two sections, calculator and non-calculator, some students find the SAT questions on the math test more challenging, while others find it less challenging. Knowing what kind of test taker you are can make the differences between the ACT and the SAT work in your favor.
The ACT places a heavier emphasis on experimental design in the ACT science section, which serves as a gauge for a student’s college readiness. This section often requires more problem-solving skills. The Reading section of the SAT includes evidence-support questions, which require students to cite specific lines or paragraphs as evidence for their answers. This type of question format is not present on the ACT.
The base layouts for the two tests are different as well. The SAT test includes a Reading section with 52 questions, the SAT reading test with 44 questions, the SAT Math No Calculator section with 20 questions, the SAT Math Calculator section with 38 questions, and an optional essay writing section with one written response.
The ACT has the ACT English section with 75 questions, the ACT Math section with 60 questions, the ACT Reading section with 40 questions, the ACT Science section with 40 questions, and an optional essay writing section with one written response.
How are they scored differently?
The ACT and SAT are standardized tests used by colleges across the United States. They are accepted by all of the major universities and are a significant part of the college admissions process. However, the two tests use different scoring models which can be important to understand.
The ACT converts raw scores into scale scores from 1 to 36 and uses these scale scores to determine a student’s overall ACT score. The SAT is out of 1600 and is determined by adding both the math and reading/writing scores (both from 200 to 800).
Just because the ACT has a lower highest score does not mean that it is more or less challenging. The ACT and SAT are put on different scoring scales in no relation to their difficulties
What’s different about their content, and which should I take?
Although the ACT and SAT have many similarities, there are also some key differences in their content that can affect a student’s score. For example, the SAT includes more humanities content and uses longer passages. It also requires students to understand the nuances of historical English.
On the other hand, the ACT includes a science section, which contains data analysis and experimental design questions. The ACT also doesn’t have a non-calculator portion These types of questions can be challenging for students who don’t have a strong background in science.
Ultimately, a student’s choice between the ACT and SAT will depend on their strengths and weaknesses. For some, the SAT may be a better fit due to its focus on critical thinking and reasoning skills. For others, the ACT may be a better choice due to its emphasis on school curriculum-based skills and the use of calculators.
When are they offered?
If you’re considering taking the ACT or SAT, it’s important to plan ahead. Both tests are offered throughout the year, although the SAT is only offered on weekends, and the ACT is offered throughout the week. Both tests are lengthy, and it is essential to prepare thoroughly, learn how to answer questions quickly, and understand the timing breakdown of the test.