Haven't decided yet on which test to take? Here is the guideline to help you choose the one that would be of more benefit to you.

What is ACT & SAT?


The SAT, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, has been the dominant form of testing in the US, and is universally accepted by all higher education institutions. However, due to declining number of students taking the test, the SAT will be radically changed in the coming spring. Unlike its predecessor, with three subject tests of Math, Reading, and Writing, a 2400 max score, and point deductions for incorrect answers, the new SAT will have only two sections- Math and Reading and Writing- a max score of 1600, no point deductions, and optional essay. The New SAT is much more different, because it tests student’s ability to analyze and think critically, with answers requiring textual evidence to be valid and math questions designed to make the students solve the problems by utilizing several concepts together. As a result, though superficially the new SAT may seem easier, the test still is as arduous and difficult as ever.


The ACT, or the American College Testing, is a relatively new standardized test format, designed in 1959 as a counterbalance to the more common SAT. Since its inception, it has become increasingly popular with students and colleges, surpassing the SAT in number of students taking the test in 2011, and has been accepted by every university, private and public, in the US. Right now, the ACT is seen as a clear tool in which students’ skills and potentials are revealed to prospective colleges.

How are the Tests Different?

Both devised to best assess students' academic ability, ACT and SAT tests share a lot of elements in common. They include similar sections such as math, reading, and writing (although writing is optional in ACT). They both contain passage-based Reading and English/Writing questions. One of the biggest difference lies in the importance of math, with SAT having two math sections, one with calculator and one without, and ACT having only one math section with calculator and a science section. Math score takes up 50 percent of the total score on SAT compared to 25 percent on ACT.  In this regard, it may be an option for students whose forte is not math to choose ACT over SAT. For scoring, ACT score is the average of the scores for each section, whereas SAT score is the sum of the sectional scores. The ACT scores range from 1 to 36 and the SAT scores range from 400 to 1600 and they both use rights-only scoring where students are not penalized for wrong answers.

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Which Test Should I Take?

Both ACT and SAT aim to diagnose students' academic abilities that are required for college education. All the universities in the United States accept scores of either test with no preference for a test over the other. Also, although the two tests may require students to put slightly varied emphasis on different academic areas, neither of the tests are easier or require less effort than the other. Hence, it is completely reasonable to choose the test solely based on whether or not the test better caters to your personal strengths. Since students may have to stick to one test for years once they have chosen one, it is desirable for students to take a free level test and decide if the test contents and format will be suitable for them.

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