Sometimes I feel like the ACT just doesn’t get enough love. Okay well love might not be the right word… but seriously everyone, why does everyone only talk about the SAT? While the ACT is a bit newer, it’s actually the more popular test of the two.
I was initially undecided. I sat for the early winter tests and found, much to my surprise I did a lot better on the ACT than the SAT. So yeah, maybe I’m biased, but here’s why the ACT is a great test.
1. The ACT is an Achievement Test
The ACT is designed to test what you’ve learned in school, rather than your reasoning. So those stupid puzzle-y SAT questions that are designed to trick you? Yeah, not so on the ACT. The test is generally pretty straightforward and it isn’t out to confuse you.
2. The ACT is 50-75% English Language Skills
Okay, bear with me on this one. Critical Reading and Writing are technically different skills, but they’re both under that “Language” umbrella. The “Science” section is more about your ability to read a chart or an article than actual “science.” So if you’re good in English class? The ACT plays strongly into your skills.
3. The ACT is a Time Test
The ACT questions aren’t actually terribly difficult, the SAT’s puzzle-y questions are much more challenging. But you still don’t have a ton of time on the ACT, which is where the challenge lies. So if you’re a quick reader and decisive? The ACT can be great.
4. The ACT is Graded by Composite
On the SAT your scores are fairly standalone. So if you’re weak in one section it will be front and center. The way the ACT grades (by averaging all of your sections) can really hide a bad section. While they see your section scores, your composite scores are much more important.
It was the combination of being able to hide my good-but-not-great math section and the strong English emphasis that really made the ACT a great test for me. Overall, I ended up scoring 200 points higher (comparatively) on the ACT than the SAT.
So take both tests, see which one plays to your strengths, and keep an open mind. Even though there may be more resources available to the more-traditional SAT, the ACT may be the test for you.