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ACT and SAT. What’s the Distinction and How to Prepare for Both Tests [GUIDE 2023]

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ACT and SAT. What’s the Distinction and How to Prepare for Both Tests [GUIDE 2023]

Standardized testing necessitates that all participants answer the same questions and evaluate the results using a consistent scoring system. The SAT and ACT are standardized examinations that universities use to determine admission.

Others argue that standardized test results merely disclose whether students are skilled at taking tests and that GPA is a stronger predictor of academic success than standardized test scores. Yet, most institutions value ACT and SAT scores more than GPA. So you’ll need to study hard this year if you want to pass one of those examinations!

The Issue: Which Should You Take: The SAT Or The ACT?

In this post, we’ll look at the differences between the SAT and ACT, as well as how to prepare for both. Study this page to make the best decision and prevent costly blunders on your path to your ideal institution.


  1.  SAT & ACT Overview
  2.  How to Choose?
  3.  Exam Dates
  4.  ACT Preparation
  5.  SAT Preparation
  6.  Conclusion & Final Tips
  7.  FAQ
  8.  References

Outline Of The SAT And ACT Tests

Let us begin with precise definitions of both tests and their components. This will assist you in selecting the best solution for you. This section should be read attentively to acquire a broad picture of the exams.


SAT is an abbreviation for Scholastic Assessment Test. Its goal is to get a thorough picture of a student’s knowledge learned at school. The majority of exam takers are junior and senior high school students who are applying to colleges.

In the United States, there are seven SAT dates available: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. You may also take the exam outside of the United States, but there are only four-time slots available. Students may take the SAT as many times as they need to in order to get their desired score. We suggest that you perform it at least twice.

The Exam Lasts Three Hours And Consists Of Three Parts:

  • The reading component includes evidence-based reading and multiple-choice questions.
  • Reading and multiple-choice questions are also included in the writing and language part.
  • There are two subsections in the Math portion, and no calculators are permitted.

You can get between 400 and 1600 points overall or between 200 and 800 points in each segment. The online score report is accessible around 2-3 weeks following the exam.

There was also an optional essay part before June 2021. Due to COVID-19 problems, the College Board terminated it. SAT Topics exams are no longer accessible after June 2021.

ACT is an abbreviation for American College Testing, which is administered by ACT, Inc. The test is as popular as the SAT, and in half of the states, it outnumbers it. In 13 American states, high school students must take the ACT. Test takers utilize their scores to get admission to colleges and grants.

There are seven ACT test dates available in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, as well as five days in other countries. Your efforts are not restricted, as they are with the SAT.

There Are Four Major Parts And One Option:

  • The English portion tasks you with editing a text.
  • The Arithmetic part assesses your abilities as of 11th grade.
  • The reading component demands you to answer questions regarding the logic, important concepts, and so on of work.
  • The science portion assesses your ability to comprehend, evaluate, and analyze scientific data.
  • The optional writing portion evaluates your writing abilities at the high school/college entrance level.

Each of the needed exam components may give you up to 36 points. The average of all exam portions determines your final test result (or composite score). The writing portion has a separate score with a maximum of 12 points. It has no bearing on the total score.

Two weeks following the test date, the results are accessible online. But, test takers in October and February may have to wait up to 8 weeks. The writing section results are normally available two weeks following the exam results.

How To Pick Between SAT And ACT?

You may attempt both tests before selecting which is best for you. There are lots of free sites with ACT and SAT samples online. Attempt to pass both exams at home using a timer. This will assist you in evaluating your strong and weak areas.

If you are adept at thinking rapidly and working under pressure, the ACT could be the appropriate decision. The SAT will be beneficial for people who enjoy deeper and more moderately-paced thinking.

Additionally, one of the examinations can be mandatory in your state to graduate from high school. In this instance, you simply need to pass the exam your institution demands.

Of course, you may always take both examinations. There are no limits. However, we suggest concentrating on one to attain greater outcomes.

The SAT & ACT Dates

We have produced a list of 2022-2023 academic year exam dates. Here you may check the nearby testing days and application deadlines:

📚 How to Prepare for the ACT?

Today we’ll talk about how to study for the ACT. It is preferable to practice one portion at a time in order to track your development and identify your weak places more rapidly.

The ACT English Section

This component of the exam comprises a few texts and multiple-choice questions. There are 75 questions in all. You have 45 minutes to read the content and respond to the questions. The questions put your grammar, vocabulary, and rhetorical abilities to the test. You must select whether to alter the text’s structure, eliminate words, or edit phrases.

This portion examines your vocabulary, grasp of the text’s tone, and ability to write appropriately. If you read a lot in your leisure time, you may find it simpler to get a high score. In studying for the ACT, you should read materials on a variety of subjects. Therefore, it’s a good habit to concentrate most of your reading time on textbooks and scientific papers.

Besides than reading, we suggest taking an exam from start to finish at least once a week. Find your weak points and concentrate on them once you have reviewed the responses.

The ACT Math Section

Math is less difficult than English but takes a lot of work. You will only have 60 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions, so you must think quickly.

The first thing you should do is assess your present grasp of the fundamental principles of algebra and geometry. Finally, take your first practice exam to identify any knowledge gaps. Following that, you may study on your own, enrol in online or in-person programs, or locate a tutor. You may study every day or undertake larger sessions a few times a week. Just make sure you finish all of your studying before the exam date.

Take a practice exam with a timer several times a week to get adjusted to the test’s speed. Note that you are allowed to use a calculator, but you can’t have a formula sheet throughout the ACT.

The ACT Reading Section

The reading component is the most perplexing for many pupils. Some questions seem to have several answers.

They don’t; that much is true. There is just one right response to each question.

That is why you must prepare for the ACT’s psychological traps. Understand the common inquiry patterns and techniques. Take practice tests and correct your errors. When your response is incorrect, return to the text and consider why the right answer is the sole choice for that question.

Attempt to comprehend your flaws. Is it a lack of vocabulary or time management? You could read too long or pause too much. If you have difficulty with your vocabulary range, note down all the unfamiliar terms you observe in practice exams. Create flashcards with these terms and review them on a regular basis.

The ACT Science Section

In this section, you will have 35 minutes to read seven sections and answer 40 questions. In other words, you only have 5 minutes for each section.

The sorts of passages you will need to deal with:

Three different data representations.

3 research summaries.

There is one opposing position.

The best method to prepare for all the potential scientific questions is to study using official ACT resources. Since these passages are unlike any other exam, official practice tests will be beneficial.

The most important aspect of your preparation is undoubtedly analyzing the outcomes of each practice exam. Mark your errors, the answers you were uncertain about, and the ones you guessed. Look for trends in your decisions and weaknesses. For example, maybe for you, it is hard to interpret bar graphs and recognize patterns. Maybe you don’t grasp writings on certain issues because you don’t understand the theoretical foundations. Make a list of the things you need to focus on and learn before taking your next practice exam.

Study the topics included in the ACT Science portion as much as you can. But, don’t depend just on theoretical knowledge. Note that it is difficult to know everything in the scientific portion; your problem-solving and reasoning abilities are vital.

The ACT Writing Section

Since this is an optional element, be sure you need it for college admission. Preparing for each phase takes time. You may need a few more hours a week to develop your writing abilities in addition to preparing for the other ACT components.

You must first comprehend the rationale of the writing portion in order to prepare for it. The good news is that you do not need to independently verify the information you want to present as proof. Fact-checking is not something that ACT scorers have time for. That is why any reasonable assertion is considered fact. Additionally, even though ACT, Inc. does not mention it, essay length is significant. Students who compose longer essays often do better academically.

Create an essay outline before you begin writing. Record your stance, arguments, counterarguments, examples, and transitions. No matter how good your ideas are, scorers pay greater attention to the start and end of your essay. Make sure your thesis statement is strong and accurately expresses the essay’s topic. The conclusion should repeat the argument while also analyzing the data you supplied.

To make fewer errors, practice writing an essay without time yourself at first. Your literacy, vocabulary, concepts, essay format, and coherence are also evaluated by scorers. After you’re comfortable with the work, add a timer.

The Act Tips

Preparing for the ACT and taking the real exam are very different experiences. Time limits make the actual thing a lot more hectic and harder.

These are strategies that will save you time and help you earn a higher score:

  • English. Even if you believe you know everything about grammar, review and expand your understanding.
  • English. NO CHANGE is the right response 25% of the time, so don’t overthink correct statements.
  • Memorize all of the formulae you could need in math.
  • Math. Even though you can perform the calculations yourself, use a calculator to save time.
  • Reading. Don’t reread the whole text if you didn’t grasp anything or lost your attention.
  • Science and reading. Before you read the material, read the questions.
  • Science. Start with the simplest paragraphs.
  • Writing. Outline your essay in accordance with the prompt.
  • Writing. Allow 5 minutes for proofreading.

How To Study For The SAT

Spending too much time on preparation could work, but the key is to study intelligently. In this segment, we will discuss how to master each SAT section.

The SAT Reading Section

You will have 65 minutes to read five texts and complete 52 questions in the reading part.

It’s okay if some questions or answers seem to have a double meaning. These unclear questions are used by the ACT and SAT to deceive pupils. Remove erroneous responses one by one. Cross out the incorrect answers first. Next,, remove the selections that are overly wide, too narrow, or where the language or connection is inverted.

You may also try to guess the answer as soon as you read the question. Afterwards, you will need to choose the one that is closest to your original assumption. Without practice, knowing the tactics won’t assist you. Examine your errors. This will assist you in identifying areas for improvement. It may be your reading speed, attention to detail, analytic ability, etc.

Strive to complete the reading section before time runs out. Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to revisit unclear questions or review your responses.

The Writing & Language Part of the SAT

You will have 35 minutes to read four texts and respond to 44 questions. This component of the exam is fairly similar to the ACT.

There are two sorts of questions here:

Standard English inquiries. Your command of language and punctuation will be tested by these questions.

Rhetorical skills questions. These questions assess writing abilities, vocabulary, and word choice.

Don’t spend too much time texting. For each section, you have no more than 9 minutes. As time is limited, we suggest reading the questions first and then searching for the solutions. Before working on the questions, you might skim the texts to grasp the big picture.

Finding what works best for you is the key. While taking practice exams, try out several reading strategies and choose the quickest.

The SAT Math Section

80 minutes make up the SAT Math portion. During this time limit, you must respond to 58 questions. Even if you are proficient in mathematics, you should take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the structure. The majority of questions do not resemble your Calculus problems.

Keep track of your time during practice exams. You may have the correct answers, but you may be taking too long. For the SAT, there is no extra time, so determine what slows you down. Discover the questions that are tougher to answer for you. Note the formulae and solutions together with their proper solutions.

If you made a mistake and cannot quickly recognize it, you should go more into the idea. Some practice exams provide explanations for the right responses. If not, seek online for comparable issues and their solutions. Then compare your techniques with the ones that yield the proper answer.

The SAT Tips

  • Employ these strategies to improve your SAT scores:
  • Reading. Answer specific questions first. Then go to general questions.
  • Reading. Depend on the text, not your view on the topic.
  • Language, Reading, and Writing. Save time by skimming and scanning.
  • Language, Reading, and Writing. Start with the easier portions and conclude with the harder ones.
  • Math. Even if the exam gives them, remember them to save time.
  • Language and Writing. To better comprehend the questions, choose the variable response option.
  • Language and Writing. Try pronouncing the choices in your mind to see which one sounds most natural.
  • Math. Study each field of knowledge independently. Avoid studying algebra, trigonometry, and geometry at the same time.

We can help you with any type of essay assignment. Just let us know what you need

The main point we want you to take away from this article is that having a strategy is half the battle. With all of the stress that comes with the admissions process, using a dependable system will assist you both in preparing for and taking the exam. Always remember that the SAT and ACT are extremely different from the examinations you take in school; thus, they demand considerably more preparation, talent, and focus.

Lastly, we’ve compiled some basic recommendations for you to utilize while you practice.

Plan your preparation. Divide your schedule into sections and sub-sections so that you can concentrate on each task separately.

Be consistent. It is more effective to practice every day for 30-40 minutes than twice a week for 2 hours.

Start with the simple things. While taking an exam, emphasize the easy questions instead than spending time on unclear ones.

Any response is preferable to none. It’s better to guess than to think too long or to leave an answer blank – you might just hit the target.

Regularly take the full tests. You should familiarize yourself with the exam format before taking it.

Read, read, and read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on in English, including newspapers, online magazines, books, scientific articles, and so on. You’ll learn new words, recall information for essay examples, and engage with professional language.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the SAT and ACT?

The SAT and ACT are standardized examinations used to evaluate students’ knowledge. These exams are mostly used for college admissions in the United States. Several colleges outside the United States require students who graduated from a US high school to have an ACT or SAT score.

What Distinguishes The ACT From The SAT?

Although both exams emphasize English and Math, only the ACT includes a Science portion. Moreover, the essay part is presently only offered on the ACT. The SAT, on the other hand, contains two Math portions, while the ACT only has one. Algebra is the SAT’s math concentration, whereas Trigonometry and Geometry are on the ACT.

Which Is Simpler, The ACT Or The SAT?

It relies on your knowledge and abilities. The SAT is said to be superior for pupils with an analytical approach since Math accounts for 50% of the score. It is preferable to try both exams at home to determine which format is best for you. You may also find out whether the institutions you wish to attend offer merit scholarships for good SAT or ACT scores.

Which Universities Do Not Need SAT Or ACT Scores?

Because to the COVID-19 epidemic, more than 100 universities did not need ACT or SAT results for admissions in 2021/2022. To stay up to speed on developments, visit the universities’ websites. New York University, Pitzer College, Hampshire College, Cornell College, and University of the People are among the institutions that do not normally need SAT or ACT results.

When Do You Take The SAT And ACT?

Both tests include seven testing dates in the United States and four to five days outside the country. We suggest taking a test once during your junior year and once during your senior year. You may retake both exams as many times as necessary.

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