From CLC: New SAT or ACT?

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From California Learning Center:

With the recent (March 2016) release of the new SAT, many students have asked which test should I take?

The revised SAT is now more similar to the ACT, so the decision should be easy, because you can’t go wrong, right?  Yes, and no, while there used to be distinct differences between the two tests, the tests are now similar enough that you must read the fine print to determine which one best suits your strengths.  Here are a few considerations before making a decision. 

New SAT vs. ACT                                                       

  • Both tests have English language and math sections (ACT also has Science). Both have optional essays and we encourage everyone to include the essays when registering. Many colleges require the essay portion. Take a look at the types of essay prompts particular to each test to see if you have a preference.
  • One criticism of the old SAT was the vocabulary section. The words were often antiquated and not representative of modern language. This has changed. The new SAT vocabulary section has joined the modern era and is now similar to ACT.
  • New SAT math includes some fill-in the blank questions and allows for the use of a calculator in certain areas, but not others. The ACT allows use of a calculator throughout the math section.
  • New SAT does not include a section on Science, but scientific readings and references appear throughout. ACT includes a section specific to Science.  
  • Timing is slightly different for the tests. The timing breaks down in such a way that there is more time per question on the SAT than the ACT. Total testing time is 3 hours 50 minutes (SAT) vs. 3 hours 35 minutes (ACT) with the ACT asking more questions. Essay time is included in the total, but differs too – 50 minutes SAT and 40 minutes ACT. If it takes you longer to answer questions, the SAT might be a more comfortable fit.

The idea is to choose the test best suited to your strengths then practice, practice, practice to become comfortable with the format and types of questions on that particular test (check out our test prep courses).  A good showing on either test will help you get into college — choose one and give it your best effort.

 CLC August 2016