Know Your ACTs and SATs

Both the ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) are nationally administered standardized tests used by college admission offices to help evaluate potential students. Colleges and universities maintain they will accept either test, so which one do you take? Depending on which schools you are applying to, your strengths and your test-taking preferences, one test could suit you better than the other.

Both of the tests have distinct personalities. the ACT is highly curriculum-based covering overall educational development, while the SAT is aimed more at general reasoning and problem-solving skills. Let’s take a closer look at each test.

ACT
Length: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Structure: 4 sections (English, Math, Reading, Science) plus optional writing test
Scoring: You receive a composite score of 1-36 based on averages from the four test sections, as well as the four separate scores. There is no penalty for wrong answers and you decide which score is sent.

SAT
Length: 3 hours, 45 minutes
Structure: 10 sections (3 Critical Reading, 3 Math, 3 Writing, 1 unscored Experimental)
Scoring: Total score ranging from 600-2400 based on scores from three test sections. Each of the three subjects is scored from 200-800. A quarter of a point is subtracted from the raw score for each wrong answer. You can also decide which score is sent, although check with the college, as some require you to send all scores.

Despite their differences, neither test is guaranteed to produce a higher score. If you feel you can score higher on one versus the other, chances are you will. You may also decide to take both tests! Practice exams are generally inexpensive or free and are available electronically and in-print from academic institutions. These can help familiarize you with the testing format and allow you to judge your performance before taking the real thing.

Aureus Prep expert tutors have the track record of helping students improve individual performance on college admission tests, including the SAT and ACT. For more information about our SAT or ACT programs, contact us for details.