The ACT and SAT are different tests that measure similar but distinct constructs. The ACT measures achievement related to high school curricula, while the SAT measures general verbal and quantitative reasoning.
To help you zero in on the right exam, here are seven key differences:
1. ACT questions tend to be more straightforward.
ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you’re being asked before you can start solving the problem. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay):
SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?
ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?
2. The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary.
If you’re an ardent wordsmith, you’ll love the SAT. If words aren’t your thing, you may do better on the ACT.
3. The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.
You don’t need to know anything about amoebas or chemical reactions for the ACT Science section. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. But if you’re a true science-phobe, the SAT might be a better fit.
4. The ACT tests more advanced math concepts.
In addition to basic arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, the ACT tests your knowledge of trigonometry, too. That said, the ACT Math section is not necessarily harder, since many students find the questions to be more straightforward than those on the SAT.
5. The ACT Writing Test is optional on test day, but required by many schools.
The 25-minute SAT essay is required and is factored into your writing score. The 40-minute ACT writing test is optional. If you choose to take it, it is not included in your composite score — schools will see it listed separately. Many colleges require the writing section of the ACT, so be sure to check with the schools where you are applying before opting out.
6. The SAT is broken up into more sections.
On the ACT, you tackle each content area (English, Math, Reading and Science) in one big chunk, with the optional writing test at the end. On the SAT, the content areas (Critical Reading, Math and Writing) are broken up into 10 sections, with the required essay at the beginning. You do a little math, a little writing, a little critical reading, a little more math, etc. When choosing between the SAT and ACT, ask yourself if moving back and forth between content areas confuse you or keep you energized?
7. The ACT is more of a “big picture” exam.
College admissions officers care about how you did on each section of the SAT. On the ACT, they’re most concerned with your composite score. So if you’re weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score and thus make a strong impression with the admissions committee.
ACT Test Dates:
SAT Subject Test Dates/Categories:
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Our SAT/ACT Tutors are qualified and ready to help meet your tutoring needs. Browse through our SAT/ACT Tutors below:
Tim, a master tutor, is currently a 7th grade social studies teacher. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2002 with a B.A. in history and secondary education. He received his M.A. in history in 2008 from William Paterson University. He has been a 7th grade teacher for fourteen years. He's taught mostly social studies, but also taught language arts for 5 years a well. He is highly qualified in elementary education grades k-8 in all subjects, social studies grades 6-12, and language arts grades 6-8. He has tutored students from elementary school through high school over the last seventeen years in a variety of subjects, mostly focused on homework help and test/quiz preparation. He looks forward to an opportunity to get back into tutoring on a more consistent level and help students achieve their academic potential!... [More About Timothy Cichewicz]
Tom, an expert tutor, is a graduate of Montclair State University. Specializing in social studies education, Thomas has been committed to providing students with engaging lessons and has worked with many different grade levels. Through Montclair State University, Thomas has learned a vast amount of techniques to best serve his students. Thomas has also earned his graduate degree from Louisiana State University in Curriculum and Instruction. In addition to social studies education, Thomas has also worked as a writing and reading coach for college students, helped individuals obtain their GED, and tutored students in preparation for the SAT/ACT. Thomas is currently working as a teacher in Livingston, NJ. In his spare time, Thomas likes to read, play volleyball, and do volunteer work with various charities.... [More About Tom Montesion]
Uri, an expert tutor, has a B.S. in industrial engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology, an M.A. in Bilingual Education, and a teaching certification in mathematics. He has taught at Perth Amboy High School and is currently teaching in the Elizabeth Public Schools. He also has experience working as a substitute classroom teacher in Middlesex County for grades k-12. Uri tutors mathematics and Spanish to children and adults of all levels. He loves to cook, watch movies, listen to music, and travel. Uri has an extraordinary amount of patience as a teacher and enjoys finding each student’s ideal learning style.... [More About Uri Perez]
Valeryia, a master tutor, earned her degree in Sociology from Belorussian State University in Minsk, Belarus. She also studied Sociology and Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. When she moved to the US, Valeryia furthered her studies by earning a Masters in French at Montclair State University. Veleryia is a very experienced teacher and tutor in both French and Russian. She has taught on both the high school and college levels, and looks forward to working with students to further improve their foreign language skills.... [More About Valeryia Morozov]
Vasileios, a master tutor, has more than 10 years of experience as a full-time Professor at prestigious institutions of higher education, such as George Washington University, Baruch College, Stevens Institute of Technology and Fairleigh Dickinson University. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Statistics, an M.Sc in Finance and a B.Sc in Mathematics.
Vasileios has taught Mathematics, Statistics and Economics/Finance at all levels, both undergraduate and graduate levels. He enjoys teaching all Math subjects, as well as the quantitative and analytics sections of GRE/GMAT/SAT tests. Aside from teaching, Vasileios also worked in the Financial Industry as a Quantitative Analyst, Data Scientist, and Econometrician.
Vera, a master tutor, earned her MA in Education from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City. She is currently a high school math teacher in Middlesex County. Vera believes that everyone is ultimately responsible for their own learning, and that as a teacher, she has been given the opportunity to influence the motivation of students in the learning process. The goal is to maximize student achievement to the highest degree possible. As a passionate learner herself, Vera wants her love of learning to be contagious. A successful teacher recognizes the uniqueness and individuality of participants and thereby creates learning experiences appropriate to different styles of learning.... [More About Vera Vitali]
Vicente, an expert tutor, was born in Lima, Peru, where he obtained an B.S.E.E. from the National Engineering University Lima-Peru. He later earned an M.S.E.E. and M.B.A from NJIT in Newark, NJ.
He worked for Nextel, Sprint and AT&T for 16 years as senior RAN engineer and capacity plan manager. He has tutored high school students for the past 6 years in math and physics with great results.
Vicente takes great pride in helping students excel beyond their expectations and achieve success.
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