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SAT vs. ACT: Which Test Works For You?

Almost everyone is familiar with the SAT, however, schools accept another testing option, known as the ACT. The SAT and ACT tests are very similar with a few notable differences. They both work to test your knowledge in preparation for college, and colleges use these scores during their admissions process. The SAT and the ACT both hold the same value to a college, and the scores are also used to award scholarships. 

Both tests generally cover the same topic, but many students find themselves comparing which test is right for them. The SAT is now changing its format. Let’s compare and contrast the two tests to help students who may not be sure which test is better suited for their skills.

Test StructureReading
Science Reasoning
Essay (Optional)
ScoresScale of 400-1600Scores on a scale of 1-36
Length2 hours2 hours, 55 minutes
(without essay)

3 hours, 40 minutes
(with essay)
ReadingShorter Reading passages with one question tied to each passage
4 reading passages
Algebra I & II
Data Analysis
Algebra I & II
Probability & Statistics
Not included1 science section testing your critical thinking skills
Essays35 minutes long, includes 4 passages ad contains 44 multiple-choice questions1 science section testing your critical thinking skills
Calculator PolicyYou can now use a calculator for the entire math sectionYou can use a calculator on all math questions
DigitalStudents can test on a personal device or a school-issued deviceNot include

Both of these tests have their own caveats. It is up to the students to decide which test they would like to submit on their college applications. It is often recommended that students attempt both. With the SAT and ACT becoming optional for many college applications, it is still recommended that students submit at least one of these tests on their application. It can only help their applications in the admissions process.

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