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Should you take the SAT or ACT exam? Which is better for you…

Article about whether you should take the SAT or ACT exam:

College admissions tests can be overwhelming, but choosing the test (SAT vs. ACT) that best suits you puts you on the path to success early on. While the SAT is historically regarded as the typical admissions test, the ACT is quickly gaining ground and becoming an important part of your college application. For many schools in the Midwest and the South, this test is even the standard for admissions. As you consider your testing options, it is important to determine what kind of student does well on the ACT. This guide should help identify if the ACT is the test for you!

About the ACT Exam:

First off, it’s important to understand what the ACT is all about. There are 4 sections to the test: English, Math, Reading, and Science, and there is also an optional writing section that some schools require. The test takes approximately 3 hours to complete, or 3.5 hours if you choose to complete the writing component. The SAT, meanwhile, takes just under 4 hours. If you tend to get restless during tests or lose focus, the ACT may be a better test for you, because the test has more breaks and a shorter run-time.

In addition to the testing length, the character of each test differs. Although both tests evaluate similar skills and knowledge bases, particularly in math, the ACT tends to ask questions in a more straight-forward manner. The test writers are not trying to trick you in the same way the SAT writers may try. Because of this difference in each test’s style, improving your score on the ACT often involves reviewing concepts, while much SAT prep focuses on test-taking strategies. If you prefer straight-forward questions rather than nuanced or “trick you” questions, the ACT is probably your best bet. That being said, the ACT does tend to focus on grammar (think, “what is wrong with this sentence” type of questions), while the SAT emphasizes vocabulary. You may choose your test based on your strengths in these areas.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the ACT is its science section. At first, many students are fearful of this section, but it is important to realize that very little prior knowledge is required! The science section mostly tests your ability to make connections, use reasoning, and employ basic skills like using information in tables or graphs to answer questions.

Overall, if you tend to be the type of student who works harder in school than your peers and does better in difficult classes, the ACT is for you. If you consider yourself to be more intuitive with strong reasoning skills, but not always the best work ethic, the SAT might be a better test. In general, however, it is important to recognize that with hard work in school and in your test preparation, you can succeed in the college admissions process.

This post on the ACT exam was written by Beryl Manning-Geist; she’s part of the SAT private tutoring and ACT private tutoring team at Top Test Prep. To learn more about how to prepare for either exam, simply call Top Test Prep at 1-800-501-7737.