What’s the difference?


Standardized testing is a hurdle that we all must jump through if we are on the road to college. So the biggest question for students maybe deciding between  the SAT and the ACT. What’s the difference, and which test should you take?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test contains ten sections that test your critical reading, math and writing skills. The SAT also contains a 25 minute period in which to write an essay. The critical reading section contains sentence completion and passage-based questions. The mathematics portion contains standard multiple choice topics and grid-in questions. The writing section covers questions about improving sentences, identifying sentence errors and improving paragraphs. The total test time is around four hours, including breaks.

The American College Test contains four sections and one optional writing section. The first portion is English, which covers grammar, punctuation and rhetorical skills. Second is the math portion, which covers math topics through algebra two. Next is the reading portion which tests comprehension skills. Different than the SAT, the ACT contains a science section. This portion contains topics from biology, chemistry, physics and Earth/space science such as geology. Finally, there is an optional writing portion, which is an essay that could cover a variety over topics. The ACT is a very time-oriented test, with a large amount of questions in a small amount of time.
These tests are offered throughout the school year, occurring almost every other month. When it comes down to what certain colleges accept, always check with admissions officers to see what the school prefers.

When deciding on which test you want to focus on, take a practice test for each assessment and see what you are most comfortable with. Most importantly be calm, as one test is not going to change your whole life.