Image by Flickr.

Image by Flickr.

When people started talking about the SAT and the ACT around my school, I panicked. I heard different rumors about how a certain test was easier or colleges only looked at your application if you took a certain test. However, both of these tests are different and may not be for everyone. Looking at these points will help you decide which test is best for you.

Consider which test scores the schools you’re looking at want and will accept

Some schools may want your ACT scores, some may want your SAT scores. Some of the schools you look at may even want both of them. Look at the admissions page of the school’s website or call the school’s Admission’s office. They should provide information about which test the school prefers. I happen to go to a state school, and even though I took both tests, they only took my ACT scores into consideration for my math and English classes. If you do happen to take both, make sure to ask if they’ll look at both of your scores, or if they’ll only consider one.

Take into account that the ACT and the SAT both have similar subject content

The tests aren’t completely opposites. In fact, both the SAT and the ACT happen to have an essay section, a reading section, a math section, and a grammar section. However, the ACT has a science section that is not on the SAT. Even though they aren’t the same questions, the general subjects will have similar topics that you can study for, regardless of which test you take. Although it is always good to consider ACT and SAT prep classes, the skills that you learn throughout school will help you prepare for either test. I happened to study a bit for both, however most of my knowledge that I was learning in my classes helped me with my tests.

Realize that time management is different on both tests

If you choose to do the writing section on both tests, there is only a ten minute difference between the SAT and the ACT, with the SAT being longer. In the ACT, the majority of the sections you will take will have more questions than minutes. For example, in the English section, you’ll have 75 questions and 45 minutes.

When I took my ACT, I was not prepared for that at all and felt like I was being rushed and couldn’t really understand the questions. I realized then that the ACT may not be the best test for me. When I took the SAT, I felt much more relaxed. The SAT happens to have multiple sections for math, reading and writing. That way, if I felt like I didn’t do that well on one section, I knew I could try to do better on the next section in that subject. If you’re someone who likes to go through one section and be done with it and can go through questions at a fast pace then the ACT might be something to consider. However, if you want to go through questions at a slower pace and are able to switch your brain from one subject to another and back again, the maybe you should consider the SAT.

Choose the one that is right for you, not your friends

The SAT and the ACT are two tests that will help you get into college. It’s good to remember that you’re the one taking it, not the people around you. Try not to let friends tell you which one will be easier or which one is better as they do not know what works for you. Talk to your guidance counselor as he/she may have good advice. Although with help you can be prepped to take either test, it is good to set yourself up for the best possible score. Knowing these differences between the tests, as well as looking into the schools you are applying for may help you decide which test is right for you.



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