There’s always a disarray between parents and students whether to opt for SAT or ACT, which would prove to be more beneficial and add that extra pointer to their college application, which colleges value ACT over SAT and vice-versa. There are also questions on test difficulty and validity of the two tests. For all the answers for these questions we have put down the similarities between the two, the differences between the two, and which one of these tests would work as a good option for you.
Almost all colleges in the US would prefer for you to take either one of the two tests and usually don’t prioritize one over the other.The structure of the tests are very similar. The parallelism between the two is what makes it grueling to decide which one to choose. So let’s go over these similarities to see what lies in common between SAT and ACT and what you’d have to take on while taking either one of the tests.


Optional Essays

No Penalty on Guessing

Have Similar Sections

Number of Test Days

Practise Test Questions

While these tests seem to be oddly alike in many ways (especially after the recent changes made in the test structures) they have these miniscule details to them that bring the differentiation out for you to distinguish between the two and navigate which one would be a better choice.


Time Per Question On The Tests:

Both ACT and SAT are extremely time bound and if you’re one that likes to take your own sweet time with each question then you might have to have other plans for your future that does not involve giving the ACT and SAT!!! SAT is a 3 hour long test without the essay whereas ACT is a 2 hour 55 minutes test without the essay. With the essay SAT becomes a 3 hour 50 minutes test and the ACT becomes 3 hours and 40 minutes. Which means SAT gives more time on each question than ACT. So you could say that SAT has a slight advantage of time over ACT.


One of the biggest differences between the two is the Science Section that is in ACT but isn’t there at all in SAT. It’s not like in SAT’s they do not evaluate your understanding of concepts of science, they just don’t have a section dedicated to it; whereas one- fourth of your total ACT score comprises Science.
You’ll find questions on Science in SAT, but it’ll be within the Reading, Writing and Science questions. This would come within your subscore as Analysis in Science cross-test score. Schools usually will not give weight to your subscores on your SAT but they will value the Science section on your ACT.

Use of Calculator:

Now you might want to take the ACT simply because they let you use the Calculator on all the questions that you attempt. In SAT, there is No Calculator subsection in which you cannot use the calculator. The No Calculator subsection is the shortest section on the SAT Test consisting of 20 questions. The Calculator section has 38 sections. To complete the Calculator section it takes about 55 minutes on the other hand the the No Calculator section barely takes 25 minutes. In that case you’re not in a very bad situation.


There is difference in the way Math sections are presented on both the tests. While doing Math formulas the SAT provides the test taker with diagrams which in the case of ACT they do not provide any such diagrams. You have to memorize the formulas in ACT whereas in SAT you could show up for your test without memorizing the formulas because they have it for you. But the catch is that these formulas are related to geometry, which doesn’t make a huge part of the SAT test. The ACT has a much larger focus on Geometry, but both together have great emphasis on algebra.
In SAT Math makes up for half of your total score, in ACT it only makes up for one-fourth of your total score. So if Math isn’t what you’re good at then you should consider ACT more. Both, SAT and ACT are preponderant in their Multiple Choice Questions. The ACT Math lets you choose between 5 options and SAT Math lets you choose between 4. So, if you’re banking on your guessing game in Math, then the SAT offers a very slight advantage over the ACT, with a 5% higher probability of getting a question correct.


Even though the two tests have Essay to be optional, the structure of these essays is very different. The ACT is inclined more towards your opinion on the given topic. You will be analysing the different and contrasting perspectives given in the passage and furnish your opinion through that.
In SAT, your analysis and argument needs to be rationally supported with evidence. You will have to evaluate someone else’s opinion on reading the passage.
Neither is too easy you’d have to see which suits you better.


Other than this, there are other factors that will come into consideration when you apply to colleges. Whether a college specifically asks one over the other or values certain sections more. Nonetheless, most colleges are accepting of both tests so it’s on you to see which do you perform better in. Some students even prefer to take both tests given the similarity in their content.
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