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SAT vs ACT: Four Questions Students Should Ask Themselves

SO…you’re a high school student, and you’re at the beginning of the college preparation process. You’re eager to get into your dream school, and you’re trying to figure which of the two major college entrance exams, the SAT or ACT, is most likely to get you there.

You’ve come to the right website. Here at MATHetc, we’ve helped countless students prepare for both tests, and we’re happy to share what we’ve learned to help you decide which test you should take.

First, let’s get something out of the way: Every accredited four-year institution in the United States accepts both SAT and ACT scores in freshman applications, and most schools don’t care which of the two tests you choose to take.

What does that mean for you? It means you should take the test you think you can ace most easily.

Not sure how to figure that out?

Don’t worry, we can help. Here are four questions you should ask yourself when deciding which college entrance exam to take.

What type of writing are you most comfortable with?

When you’re in high school, most of the essay prompts you’re assigned can be divided into two categories: prompts that ask you to analyze a topic, and prompts that ask you to offer your opinion about a topic.

Think about the best papers you’ve written in your high school career. Which of the two categories did most of those papers fall under?

If unbiased analysis is your strength, the SAT Writing Section will be right up your alley. If you’re a more opinionated writer, then you will likely prefer the ACT Writing Section.

Not particularly confident about your writing skills? Don’t worry about it; the writing sections on both tests are optional. You can still get a perfect score if you skip them.

How quickly do you finish your exams?

You’ve just thought about all the papers you’ve written, and now it’s time to look back at the exams you’ve taken.

During any exam, you’ll notice that some students finish earlier than others. While finishing early isn’t a guarantee of a stellar grade, students who finish first are typically confident that they’ve done the best they can do in a relatively short period of time.

Are you one of those students? Or are you the kind of student who feels the need to work a bit more slowly in order to avoid careless mistakes?

If you’re a fast test taker, you may have an edge over other students when taking the ACT. The ACT offers much less time per question than the ACT, making it an ideal test for students who can get through exams quickly.

If you’re more slow and meticulous, the SAT may be a better choice.

Are you an English nerd? Or are you more of a math wiz?

Both the SAT and ACT include English and mathematics sections. But while 50% of your SAT score will be determined by your performance on the math questions, only 25% of your ACT score will involve math.

If Mathematics is an area where you shine, the SAT will give you a greater opportunity to show that to the admissions officers at your dream school. But if your linguistic intelligence is greater than your mathematical intelligence, the ACT will be a better way to showcase your strengths.

How strong is your scientific knowledge?

We’ll keep this last point short and sweet. The ACT has a science section, while the SAT does not.

If science is one of your stronger subjects, you may want to consider taking the ACT. If not, the SAT may be a better option.

Next Steps

Once you decide which college entrance exam to take, you’ll need to start studying. While studying on your own can yield great results, top performing students often prepare with professional tutors.

Are you determined to get the best test scores possible? If so, feel free to get in touch with us, and we can discuss the best tutoring options for your schedule and personal needs.

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