SAT or ACT ? Which is better ?
Students wanting to get an undergraduate degree in the USA and other countries usually take two prominent entrance tests, namely, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) and the American College Testing (ACT). However, they often struggle to answer this question: what is better for me- SAT or ACT? Lets explore.
Generally, most experts would tell you that the ACT is a content-based test, while the SAT tests critical thinking and problem solving. What does this mean? To get an answer, pay attention to the format of each of these tests.
Format : The SAT has seven sections: three sections of math, three sections of verbal, and one experimental section. The math and verbal sections each have their own specific question types like sentence completion, error finding, quantitative comparisons, grid-ins etc. The experimental section is not scored and can be either math or verbal. You will not know which section is experimental.
The ACT, on the other hand, tests your skills in English, Math, Reading, and Science reasoning. There is a variety of multiple choice questions divided into four sections - one for each tested subject area. The English, reading, and science sections each will have reading passages with anywhere from 5 to 15 questions per passage. The math section has 60 questions each with 5 possible answer choices.
Duration : Total time duration of SAT is of three hours and 45 minutes.The ACT gives you two hours and 55 minutes.
Scoring : The SAT is scored on scale of 200-800 for both the math and verbal sections. The College Board sets the average for all test takers at 500 for each. A perfect score on the SAT is 1600. On the ACT, however, you will actually receive 12 separate scores. They are: one composite score, four subject scores, and seven sub-scores. Remember that the composite or scaled score is the most important. It ranges from 1-36.
SAT and ACT differences :
The ACT includes a science-reasoning test; the SAT does not have a science specific reasoning.
- The ACT math section includes trigonometry, not necessarily true for the SAT.
- The SAT tests vocabulary much more than the ACT.
- The SAT has a negative marking or guessing penalty; the ACT does not.
Should you take SAT I or ACT?
Recently, there is more number of ACT takers than SAT. In 2011 the ACT surpassed the SAT as 1,666,017 students took the ACT and 1,664,479 students took the SAT. Remember that all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. accept the ACT, but different institutions place different emphases on standardized tests such as the ACT, compared to other factors of evaluation such as class rank, GPA and extracurricular activities.
Since both the tests measure significantly different skills, the test takers are at an advantage of showcasing the skills that they have. In a way, they get an option and can choose which test helps them shine better before US universities and colleges.