How to Decide Between the ACT and SAT?

How to Decide Between the ACT and SAT?

Both the ACT and SAT are generally accepted standardized tests in the USA and are usually the prerequisites for admission to colleges.

High school seniors and juniors typically take them to assess their proficiency in various areas essential for a successful period at college.

All US universities and colleges accept both ACT and SAT, so it is up to you to decide which test you’re going to take.

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Understanding the format of each test

Before you choose the test, you have to understand everything about the SAT and the ACT entirely. Both were designed to be more logic-based to even the playing field for students who didn’t have the opportunity to study at the most prestigious schools.

They both have two verbal sections; a section on reading comprehension and the other section on grammar.

Formal grammar, unlike math, is rarely taught in schools. The students who have an advantage in this area read a lot of books during their free time.

The format of the math and science section on SAT and ACT is different. ACT allows for using a calculator while the SAT has no calculator and the calculator allowed sections and focuses on graphing, geometry, and abstract algebra over complex arithmetic.

Also, the SAT doesn’t have a science section, while the ACT has an in-depth science section. It has 40 questions, 6-7 studies, and much more visual data.


This is the primary challenge students face while writing these tests. The SAT asks 154 questions which you’re to answer in 3 hours, while the ACT is 215 questions within 2 hours and 55 minutes.

SAT has a reading test, writing, and language and the math section takes 65 minutes, 35 minutes, and 80 minutes respectively.

The ACT comprises a 35-minute reading test, a 45-minute English test, a 60-minute math section, and a 35-minute science test.

Essay Sections

Both exams have optional essay sections. It is not advisable to not attempt these sections. Some schools include essays as part of their admission requirements.

Students are to write an argumentative essay about a specific topic for 40 minutes in the ACT essay.

The SAT requires reading a passage or two within the time frame of 50 minutes and analyzing the arguments within.

The essays give writers an edge over their peers.

Availability of study resources

Students need study resources to help them prepare for the test better. SATs have a wide range of study guides and secondary resources.

The ACT also has study guides and resources, although not as many as the SATs. The advantage that ACT tests have over SAT in this aspect is that the SAT format was recently changed, which means that it has more resources than the SAT.

Deciding between SAT and ACT is not an easy one, asides from personal preference, what can help you make this decision is a diagnostic test of each. This will help tutors make recommendations. The one you choose boils down to you.

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