If you’re planning on going to College, then one of the first steps that you should take to prepare for it would be to take either the ACT or the SAT exam, as most Colleges will likely ask you to submit your scores for one of these tests when you apply. The good news is that you don’t have to take both of these tests (unless you want to increase your chances of getting accepted) because that would entail an investment of both time and money: both exams’ scores are accepted by a majority of the Colleges, so you really just need to decide on which test to take. But how do you decide? Is one more suited for you than the other? Your friends at High Performance Tutoring want to give you a more in-depth look at these two exams so that you can make an informed decision about which test to take based on several key factors.
Some schools offer you scholarships if your ACT or SAT scores meet their requirements. If the College that you’re applying to is offering a scholarship program that you want to try and qualify for; then find out which test they need the scores for. This can be a big help towards lowering the amount of money you will spend for your education, and can help you decide whether to take the SAT or the ACT.
Test Components and Times
Perhaps two of the most compelling reasons to choose one exam over the other are the components/sections of the exams themselves, and the time each exam allots for each component/section. Both the SAT and the ACT have a total of 5 components: 4 main sections, plus the optional Essay-writing section. The revised SAT deals with the following subject areas: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (without a calculator), Math (using a calculator), and the optional Essay component. In contrast, the ACT deals with the following subject areas: English, Math, Reading, Science, and the optional Essay-writing section.
One thing you will notice is that there is no Science component for the SAT; although there are reading selections and problems about science in it, while the ACT has a dedicated Science component/section. If science is one of your waterloos, then the SAT might be a better fit for you. Furthermore, the SAT focuses more on Algebraic Math and less on Geometry and Trigonometry; which are both given more emphasis in the ACT. However, it has a two Math sections; one of which does not let you use a calculator to solve problems. So if you like using a calculator for Math tests, take the ACT.
The ACT also gives less time for its examinees to answer the exam: the total time for taking it is 2 hrs 55 minutes (add 40 minutes for the optional essay component). On the other hand, the SAT gives examinees 3 hours to take it (plus 50 minutes for the essay writing, if ever). Choose the SAT if you want a little more time to answer items. If you’re felling like you don’t want to drag out the test (and can answer the test items in the allotted times); then take the ACT. Take note though, that the SAT only has a slightly longer test time than the ACT (it is longer by 5 minutes without the Essay-writing component/section, and 15 minutes longer with it).
School and Location
One more factor that determines which test you will take is the school and state that you study in. Approximately half of all states will require their junior students (particularly those in public schools) to take either the ACT or the SAT. This means that the test you will take may have already been decided for you. In this case, the best thing to do is to prepare for the test that your school prescribes.
If after reading all of this, you still can’t decide which test is better for you, then we suggest you take practice exams for both the SAT and ACT and see in which test you perform better. It will take more prep time, but will likely give you a more accurate result.
High Performance Tutoring offers One-on-one Prep Courses for both the SAT and the ACT in the Bay Area. Our team of highly-qualified and talented prep tutors use our award-winning SAT and ACT curricula coupled with our superior methodology to help you raise your scores in either test! Call us at (619) 313-4861, or visit our website and register online.