What is the SAT? What is the ACT?
We’ve enlisted the help of testing expert Ross Blankenship, founder of Top Test Prep (www.toptestprep.com), to help compare the SAT and ACT.
Q: What is the SAT? What is the ACT? What’s the biggest difference between the ACT and the SAT?
A: The biggest difference between the ACT and SAT is that the SAT is more a reasoning-based exam, whereas the ACT tends to be more straightforward analytically. What this means is that the SAT frequently requires that you go through more steps in order to solve each problem. The ACT exam has more sections (i.e. science) and there are more problems within the ACT’s math section. The ACT also has an optional writing section that does not factor into a student’s scores. The SAT essay actually factors into a student’s scores.
Q: Is one test easier than the other?
A: The SAT tends to be easier for students who naturally do better in school without studying as hard. The ACT tends to be easier for students who work quickly through exams and memorize large amounts of information, faster.
Q: Which test requires more studying?
A: Both exams require an equal amount of effort and studying. Students are unlikely to know which test is better for them until they’ve taken a diagnostic exam.
Q: Is there a preferred test for each kind of student?
A: At Top Test Prep, we’ve seen students who we assumed would have done better on the ACT actually do better on the SAT (and vice versa). Colleges almost always accept both exams now, so take a diagnostic exam and several practice tests to see which test is a better fit.