Ten Basic Points to Distinguish Between ACT and SAT

Ten Basic Points to Distinguish Between ACT and SAT

Both SAT and ACT are standardized tests for college admissions at undergraduate level in the USA. But which to follow and what are the basic differences between them. Please find the following points mention below for the same:

1)      Aptitude vs Achievement:

SAT comprises of questions more related to your reasoning and verbal abilities. It checks the aptitude of students for college admissions. On the other hand, ACT is an achievement test which meant to check your knowledge of subject matter that you have learnt at your school level.

2)      Duration of test:

The SAT reasoning test takes 3 hours and 45 minutes comprising 140 questions while ACT takes 3 hours 25 minutes comprising 215 questions which means students have less average time to answer ACT questions.

3)      ACT Trigonometry:

ACT consists of few questions related to Trigonometry but the SAT does not. For taking ACT one should be well versed with basic Cosine, Sine rules.

4)      ACT Science:

ACT has a science test that includes questions related to Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science. It checks your ability to understand graphs, scientific theories and research summaries whereas SAT does not.

5)      Writing skill difference:

Knowledge of Grammar plays an important role in taking both test. One should be well versed with part of speech and subject/verb agreement. Though the pattern for questions in each exam is a little different. The ACT includes more questions related to punctuation and rhetoric strategies.

6)      The SAT guessing Penalty:

While taking SAT you should keep in mind that you should not guess for answers rather you should leave the answers blank, as if you will just give randomly guess for answers then due to guessing penalty your overall score get hurt whereas ACT has no negative marking.

7)      Vocabulary in SAT and ACT:

If you have good language skills but you don’t have good Vocabulary, then you should go for ACT rather than SAT, as the SAT reading sections place more emphasis on Vocabulary then the ACT English section.

8)      Essay differences:

While taking ACT test an Essay writing is optional though many colleges require it also, on the other hand for the SAT it is compulsory to take Essay writing test. 25 minutes and 30 minutes are allotted to take Essay writing in SAT and ACT tests respectively. The SAT asks you to write essays in response to a given prompt. The prompts are broad so you need to explore it using examples from literature, history and your personal experiences. All prompts are designed in such a way that can be accessible to all students irrespective of their social and economic backgrounds, while ACT asks you to have your point of view on controversial issues and to take the counter argument as a part of your essay.

9)      Structural differences:

While taking ACT test, essay writing is optional and it comes at last, on the other hand in SAT the essay writing comes first. While taking SAT, you will find that the level of difficulty is rising as the test paper proceeds; on the other hand ACT has a constant level of difficulty. In ACT Math section, you will find all questions comprising multiple choices, while SAT comprises of some questions that require written explanatory answers.

10)  Scoring differences:

Each section of the ACT is out of 36 points whereas each section of the SAT is out of 800 points. Average score for SAT exam is around 500 but for ACT it is approx 21 points. The SAT provides scores for each individual section on the other hand ACT provides you a composite score that shows how your composite score measures up against other test takers.

Kindly post your comments, opinion below this blog.

Wishing you all, success!!!

Best Regards,

Shivangi Garkhel


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