What Test Is Right For You? ACT vs SAT

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What Test Is Right For You? ACT vs SAT

Written by Cindy W, Advisor of Greatness for Enhanced Prep

Every four-year U.S. college and university accepts either SAT or ACT scores from applicants. But which test should you actually take? 

This is a great question and one that every high school student should ask themselves, as early as sophomore year! 

Contrary to popular belief, colleges do not prefer one test over another. What’s more, the SAT and ACT are very different tests and are subsequently likely to suit very different students. 

Our thoughts on this are supported across the industry. The first thing we recommend is that students take a full practice ACT and a full practice SAT to discover which test is best for their needs. 

We know that a practice test requires a lot of time out of your life! (Each test is at least three hours long.) But taking a practice test can be the start of a rewarding journey towards a high SAT or ACT score, which can, in turn, lead to scholarship funds and acceptance into the school of your dreams. 

We believe that that is worth a few hours of every student’s life! 

If you have taken a recent (within the last 3 months) PSAT, that may preclude you from needing to take the full practice SAT. These two tests are created by the same test maker, the College Board, and are nearly identical in terms of content and timing. The difference actually lies in fifteen questions and fifteen minutes (the SAT is slightly longer). 

Once students have taken a practice test, we take a look at the Verbal and Math portions of each test to help us determine if one test type over another is better for you. 

Why do we compare these sections in particular? The simple answer is that the ACT has, in general, more Verbal content than the SAT has. This means that a greater percentage of its scoring comes from Verbal performance (as opposed to Math performance). The ACT thus tends to be a great test for students with greater Verbal strengths. 

Conversely, 50% of an SAT score comes from a student’s performance on Math (as opposed to only 25% on the ACT). Students who perform better on standardized Math content may thus be better suited for taking the SAT. 

Of course, this is only one key differentiating factor between the two tests. 

Test-taking high school students will be in one of the following three categories: 

  • 25% of all students will be better suited for the ACT 
  • 25% of all students will be better suited for the SAT 
  • 50% of all students will be suited for either test type (we recommend the one most likely to give you the highest score!) 

Remember: all colleges will accept either test type! 

We also like to remind students that the SAT and ACT are unlike any tests you have ever taken before, especially in terms of content, presentation, length, and strategy. In fact, they are not fair and are created for you to fail! 

Do some students master these tests? Certainly the more you know about them–and the more you practice–the greater opportunity you will have for SAT or ACT success. Know that even the best of students can earn a dismal SAT or ACT score if they are not equipped to take either test. 

Whether you’re an ACT test taker or an SAT test taker, there are options for you when it comes to test prep! There are tons of ACT and SAT prep books on the market, for example, tutors around every corner, and multiple schools of thought for succeeding on these college entrance exams. 

Find what works for you, and if you would like some guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact us at advisor@enhancedprep.com 

We offer free online workshops for both test types, subject workshops for advanced math, grammar, algebra, and beyond! Find out more on our Events page (https://enhancedprep.com/upcoming-events/). We are also available to speak with you about taking free previously released ACT or SAT tests and discussing the results. 

Good luck! 

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