Chosing between Sat and Act

Two decades ago, taking a standardized test was not a difficult thing to choose from: it was mainly a matter of geography. In the Midwest, students took the ACT. If you lived on the coasts — or were applying to a highly selective college or university there — you took the SAT. However , according to the ACT inc., in the past five years, the number of ACT takers on the East Coast has risen 66 percent, and on the West Coast 46 percent. With Ivy league schools rejecting almost nine out of ten qualified candidates, applicants are ending up giving both ACT and SAT in order to improve their chances. But colleges swear they don’t prefer one over the other, moreover who has the time and money to prepare for both tests. It’s entirely a choice you make and both formats favour only one type of student – the student who has a good grasp of his high school curriculum.

ACT and SAT: The ACT is a content-based test, whereas the SAT tests critical thinking and problem solving.

Components of SAT and ACT: The SAT exam has three components: Math, Critical Reading and Writing. The ACT has four components: English Language, Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Science. Both are multiple questions based. In measuring verbal skills, the SAT focuses on vocabulary whereas the ACT concentrates on grammar, punctuation and syntax. And if you want to avoid science and trigonometry, stick with the SAT, which has neither.

Which Format to Choose? : You can take predictive tests (the PSAT and PLAN) sophomore year and analyze the scores you’re likely to get on the SAT and ACT. The practice tests cover much the same material as their respective cousins, which they imitate in style and content. Here are some SAT Practice tests

Time Taken: The ACT lasts two hours, 55 minutes (plus 30 minutes with the optional writing test). The SAT lasts three hours, 45 minutes.

Scoring: The scores from each section of SAT can range from 200 to 800, so the best possible total score is 2400. The average score for each section is roughly 500, so the average total score is about 1500.  In ACT, each category receives a score between 1 (lowest) and 36 (highest). Those four scores are then averaged to generate the composite score used by most colleges. The average composite score is roughly a 20. That is, about 50% of test-takers score below a 20.

Comparing ACT scores to SAT scores: Any conversion between the ACT score and SAT score is just a matter of crude approximation. If we look at the percentage of students who score below a certain score, we can make an attempt at comparison.

Type of Student: The average student who does not have the intellectual flash but still works hard through school will do better on the SAT, because they can get through the reasoning skills required for SAT. The achievers of the class, because they work really hard to get the highest grades in the toughest classes, will do better on the ACT