Adriana Agic, Staff Writer

During junior or senior year of high school, students can take the SAT or ACT to help increase their chances of getting into college. Not all colleges require an SAT or ACT, but for most schools standardized testing is a necessary part of their applications. Here are the differences between the two tests to help you decide which one is better for you!


A major difference between the SAT and ACT is not only scoring and timing, but the sections on both tests. While both tests have English and math sections, the ACT also has a science section where test takers read science passages and apply math to help answer questions, draw conclusions, and answer questions specifically about graphs and scientific studies.


If you had your mind set on taking the ACT and are worried about the science part of the test, there’s no need to fret! Places like Target and Barnes And Noble have many books and resources that are there to help you with the science and math part of the test. A highly recommended workbook you should invest in would be FOR THE LOVE OF ACT SCIENCE: An innovative approach to mastering the science section of the ACT standardized exam, by Michael Cerro. The book has many chapters that go over the information that you’ll need to know for the ACT, numerous questions related to each topic, practice tests, and answers to both the topics and the practice tests followed by explanations of why the answer is correct.


Another difference between the two tests are the scoring scales. The highest possible score on the SAT is a 1600, while the highest score on the ACT is a 36. A 1600 on the SAT is equivalent to a 36 on the ACT, a 35 is similar to a 1560-1590, so on and so forth. If you ever want to know what your test score means, there are ACT-SAT scoring calculators that will help you figure out what your test score is equivalent to.


On the SAT, the math section is more complex compared to the ACT. If you’re taking the SAT and want to study for the math section, Khan Academy is one of the best ways to prepare. Prepping for the ACT, however, will require you to either hire a tutor, get ACT math workbooks for more practice, or both (depending on how comfortable you feel with the content). 


The main difference between the SAT and ACT is the fact that the SAT is designed to be more confusing for students, while ACT is designed for students to be unable to finish. 


Determining what test you take is up to you. If you’re strong in science and analysis, have extended time or are good at answering questions quickly, the ACT would be a good test to take. As for the SAT, having strong English and math skills will help you immensely on the test. Both tests are designed to be difficult, and are not a perfectly accurate measure of intelligence, so don’t be too hard on yourself if the scores don’t reflect the hard work you have put into your studies. 


The tests can be retaken as many times as you wish. Just try your best, don’t stress, and put in the time to study. These tests are important, and can help you greatly in the future. With all this in mind, hopefully it’s easier for you to decide which test fits you and your strengths better! Happy test taking!