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ACT vs. SAT

Every year, juniors are faced with the choice of taking the ACT or SAT. The decision is difficult because the tests are inherently different and many have difficulty deciding which to take and which one. So as a result, many people decide to take both, resulting in both a waste of time and a waste of money. To everyone in these stressful times, here are some differences among the ACT and SAT to ensure you know what you’re preparing for and/or which to take.

The first main difference is that the SAT contains three sections (Reading, Math and Writing and language), while the ACT contains four sections (reading math English and science).  Other main differences include timing and amount of questions. The ACT contains more questions in each section paired with a shorter amount of time. The Reading section could contain 40 questions that you have to do in 35 minutes. This undoubtedly makes it difficult for those taking the test. This is why it’s extremely important to practice, practice, and practice! Fortunately, the SAT does give you more time, however, along with more time comes more questions. In short, the ACT and the SAT aren’t that different when it comes to timing.

Math Section
The ACT contains more questions covering a wider range of mathematics compared to the SAT. If you believe that algebra is easier for you than geometry, then the SAT may be the best choice for you. Another factor is the availability of a calculator. The SAT has recently added a section in the math that prohibits you from using a calculator. If you aren’t the most confident without a calculator, then the ACT might be the best choice for you.

Science Section
The ACT contains a science section, while the SAT does not. I feel that many people decide against taking the ACT solely because of the science section. However, this shouldn’t scare you away. The science section is mainly based on if you can read the graphs and data that you are given and if you are able to properly answer the questions using this helpful information. As long as you can accurately interpret graphs and tables, you have no reason to fear the science section of the ACT.

Reading Section
Here, both tests are fairly similar, but one of the main differences is the wording of the questions. The SAT tends to give questions with line references so you know where to find the answer, while the ACT does not. This can be very time consuming if you don’t know where to look and if you don’t have the ability to skim passages quickly. Another advantage of the SAT is how they put the questions in chronological order, meaning you won’t have to jump around the passage to find your information, like you would have to on the ACT.

All in all, if you still aren’t sure which test to take, it would be a great idea to take a practice test of each and compare the scores. This would help you get a good idea of which test you feel most comfortable with and it would help you identify which test you should take. Taking full-length practice tests would help you find out what you need to study more before you even pay hundreds of dollars for a tutor.

Study hard and good luck!

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Erin Ramos of Richard Montgomery High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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