“Is there any significant difference between ACT and SAT? Which test to take to better showcase my talents?” these questions, as well as many others, come up when you start the application process. Today I would like to address at least some of them by comparing tests in terms of their structure, importance, length, availability, etc. Below you will find six most FAQs on these two entrance exams, as well as my answers to them.
 

High SAT or ACT scores do not guarantee your admission to U.S. universities, but they are a prerequisite for a successful application.

 

Do U.S. universities prefer one test over the other one?

I have looked through the websites of many universities, and have read numerous articles on the subject, but did not come across any information that suggested universities prefer one test over the other. They accept and respect both, and believe that students should decide which test is best for him/her, rather than guessing which exams are preferable for this or that school.

How do I know which test is best for me?[/p]

The SAT and ACT have a lot in common, however, they still have many nuances that make them different, which in turn makes them suitable for different types of people. The internet offers plenty of tests urging you to evaluate yourself in terms of your reading speed, math and analytical skills, ability notice pitfalls in the tests, your readiness, etc. In addition to tests, I would also suggest looking at sample questions from both tests, or even taking entire practice tests.  Some popular free versions are available at 4tests ?

How do SAT scores compare to ACT? Should I take both tests to showcase my strength?

If you are applying to highly competitive colleges, it might be a good idea to provide high SAT and ACT scores.  The more positive information that showcases your strengths you are able to provide to the admissions office, the more likely it is for them to decide in your favor. Apply this strategy only if you are a great test taker, and have enough time to prepare for both tests, which is rare. Remember, in addition, to test preparation, you will also need to maintain a high GPA at school, and continue leading an active extracurricular life. In other words, you will have to start preparing very early and manage your time very wisely to successfully prepare for both tests. 

The SAT and ACT have a lot in common, however, they still have many nuances that make them different, which in turn makes them suitable for different types of people. The internet offers plenty of tests urging you to evaluate yourself in terms of your reading speed, math and analytical skills, ability notice pitfalls in the tests, your readiness, etc. In addition to tests, I would also suggest looking at sample questions from both tests, or even taking entire practice tests.  Some popular free versions are available at 4tests which are the sites with sections devoted to different tests, as well as on the official SAT and ACT websites. [/p]

How often the tests are offered in Russia and what is the price?

All information about test centers’ location, test prices, dates they are offered, etc. is available at the official test websites. According to

 the College Board, the SAT is offered internationally in October, December, March, and May. There are 6 test centers in Russia: 4 in Moscow, one in St. Petersburg, and one in Kazan. The ACT is offered internationally in September, October, December, April, and June. There are 5 test centers in Russia: 2 in Moscow, one in Saint Petersburg, one in Vladivostok and one in Yekaterinburg. Information on testing availability, its schedule, and prices, is subject to change, so make sure to check the latest information on ACT and SAT registration procedures on the College Board website.

What is the main difference between SAT and ACT in terms structure, length, and the content?

The SAT consists of three sections: Reading, Math, and Writing and Language, while the ACT has four: Reading, Math, English, and Science.  If we include time for an essay, which is optional in both tests, the length of the ACT will be 3 hours and 35 minutes and for SAT is 3 hours and 50 minutes. ACT gives less time per question than the SAT.  Math, Reading and Writing sections have a lot in common, but also some differences. Let me focus on the few most important ones.  I will skip the Science section, as it does not exist in SAT.

 

“The SAT and ACT have a lot in common, however, they still have many nuances that make them different, which in turn makes them suitable for different types of people. ”

Mathematics

ACT math questions are designed to mostly test your mathematical knowledge, and your ability to apply them in practice.  The SAT tends to ask more complex math questions which require that you not only solve the problem but also demonstrate the fastest way to do that. The ACT does not provide any formulas during the test, while the SAT does. The SAT has different types of questions (i.e. fill-in-the-blank ones), while all ACT questions are multiple choice.  The ACT also allows calculators during the entire Math section,  while the SAT has a calculator and non-calculator sections.

Reading

The SAT has more questions than the ACT but allows more time. The ACT has more questions on reading comprehension, and the SAT has more questions on argument analysis.The texts for tests usually come from different sources. The ACT mostly takes texts from contemporary sources, like Time Magazine, New Yorker, etc. The SAT tends to include excerpts from classical literature, historically important works, presidential speeches, etc.

Writing

Essays are optional in both tests and do not impact your overall score.  The ACT and SAT will check your reading, comprehension, analytical, and writing skills. Your ability to organize your thoughts clearly and logically is important in both cases, but the tasks and the content will be a little bit different. The SAT will offer you a passage, and will then ask you to analyze how the author uses evidence and facts to support his claims. The ACT will also offer you a passage for reading, but will ask you to express your own opinion on a topic and support it with reasoning and examples.

  Useful Links

Ultimate guide to choosing the right test  

https://magoosh.com/hs/act/2016/act-vs-sat-ultimate-guide/

What is the Difference Between the ACT and the SAT?

https://articles.niche.com/what-is-the-difference-between-the-act-and-the-sat/

SAT essay

https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat/new-sat-tips-planning/about-the-sat-essay/a/sat-essay-high-scoring-student-example

New SAT Concordance

 

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/higher-ed-brief-sat-concordance.pdf

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