SAT vs ACT: Which one is right for you?

Entering college or a university is one of the milestones in a person’s life. Students spend a good portion of their time preparing for the college entrance exam. After all, it determines the next four years of their lives and even the years after that.

In America, there are two standardized tests. There is SAT, which was formerly known as Scholastic Aptitude Test, then eventually SAT Reasoning Test. The second standardized test is American College Testing or better known now as ACT. Between these two tests, students
definitely have a lot of work to do to make sure they pass them. However, what if you only decide to take one? Which one is better?

In this article, you will learn about the pros and cons of each test to help you decide which one to take.

SAT vs ACT Which one is right for you

The Advantages of the SAT

Here are some of the pros of the SAT:

  • Lesser Scope

SAT’s text structure only includes Reading, Writing and Language, Math, and an optional essay. Students who want to take a major focusing on these areas will do well to take this test. It will enable them to study more in the needed areas. If the student taking the test is better at words, it’s even more advantageous.

  • No Science

Going over the first pro above, one may notice that Science is not one of the subjects included in the test. Science is a broad subject, having many branches, and is, therefore, a very time-consuming area to study. It's not the easiest subject to understand, either, much like Math. Since the SAT already has Math, it's good that the student taking the SAT will not have to worry about studying for Science at the same time.

  • Optional Essay

One more thing that can be noticed in the SAT test structure is that its essay is optional. While some have their way with words, others don’t. If the student happens to be not very accustomed to writing essays, it won’t be a big problem when he’s taking the SAT.

  • Learnable Test

SAT is a standardized test that determines or evaluates a student’s gained knowledge in high school. This means that the questions that will appear in the test are almost the same as or, at the very least, compared to the ones taken in a high school test. If the student taking the SAT is very much willing to sit down and study hard, there is a big chance that he will do well taking the SAT.

  • More Time

One of the best pros of taking the SAT is that it has a longer time length – three hours if you’re not taking the essay and three hours and fifty minutes if you’re planning to answer the essay as well.

The Disadvantages of the SAT

Here are some of the cons of the SAT:

  • More Reading Passages

One of the SAT’s cons is that it includes more reading passages than ACT does. In total, the student will have to read through five reading passages throughout the whole test. This is not good news for those whose strengths do not include reading comprehension.

  • No Calculator Policy

Another con of SAT is that it has a “no calculator policy.” This means that all the mathematical problems that will be given in the test, including Arithmetic, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Data Analysis, will have to be computed manually.

  • Tricky Questions

Just because the SAT is a standardized test does not mean the questions will have easy and obvious answers. A lot of its questions are tricky ones. Although this part is quite challenging and satisfying when answered correctly, it adds more pressure to the one taking it.

The Advantages of the ACT

Here are the pros of the ACT:

  • More Straightforward Questions

Directly comparing ACT with SAT, ACT poses more straightforward questions. This means that students taking it won’t have to spend more time figuring out not only the answer but also what the question really means.

  • Wider Scope

While some may rejoice at the thought of not including Science to the list of subjects to study, others may be disappointed. There are students whose strengths include Science, no matter how complicated it may be. To these students, taking ACT may prove to be the better move as its scope includes Science.

  • Allows Calculator

Directly comparing ACT with SAT once again, ACT enables test takers to use a calculator in the Math portion of the test. This is a huge advantage since it allows test-takers more time to focus on other questions instead of manually solving mathematical problems.

  • Optional Essay

Just like the SAT, ACT’s essay portion is also optional. Again, this is an advantage for students who are not fond of essay writing, as skipping the essay part will allow them to spend more time on other subject areas, such as Science. However, it would be wise to remember that in most colleges, essays are vital.

The Disadvantages of the ACT

These are some of the downsides of the ACT:

  • Shorter Test Time

While it is challenging to finish an exam within a limited time, it is an added pressure to student test-takers. This is one of the cons of ACT. It only allows students two hours and fifty-five minutes without the essay and three hours and forty minutes with the essay.

  • More Advanced Math

Students who don’t love Math may be wise not to choose ACT over SAT as ACT contains more advanced mathematical problems and equations. While the branches of Math in both tests are somehow the same, the individual questions themselves are more complicated in the ACT.

  • More Memorization

ACT focuses on concrete information. Therefore, students taking this test should be ready with details and specific terms. The questions are more uncomplicated and more straightforward, but that also means that the answers are also more specific, requiring them to memorize as many and as many as possible.

Final Thoughts

So, which test is better to take: SAT or ACT? The answer is neither. Both tests are equally reliable. The student only has to decide which test to take based on his skill set.

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