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Hate to study? Of course, who loves that? In this case, a little study can go a long way. This means studying for your college entrance exam or the ACT or SAT. Taking time to study can raise your scores by dozens of points, which in turn can make you eligible for various scholarships. But, wait!? What test is the best one to take?

What do They Test?

There are some differences between the two tests that may make a BIG difference in your outcome. First, what’s on the test may be a question on your mind. The ACT and SAT differ slightly in content included. The SAT includes only two sections: Writing/Language and Math.  Both of these portions of the test are absolutely mandatory. The writing portion of the SAT is now optional. The ACT, on the other hand, tests Math, English, Reading, Science, and Writing (if you so choose). WRITING: “Wait, they test writing only if I choose to do so?” That’s right. As a student, you decide whether or not you want to take the writing portion of the test. However, beware! Some colleges require the writing portion, some suggest it, and some do not care about the writing score. As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t sure where you’re applying yet, taking the writing portion is your best option. It’s a good idea to cover your bases and make sure that you’ve got all required testing completed.

How do They Test?

The style of the ACT vs. SAT also differs.  The ACT measures what you have learned in school (knowledge), whereas the SAT measures your verbal abilities and reasoning (aptitude) without solely relying on what you’ve learned in school. This means that, on the ACT, you’ll only see questions pertaining to what you have (or should have) previously studied. The ACT score is based on a total of 36 which is an average of the individual sections.  The new SAT has been redesigned and, in our opinion, is now very much like the ACT. The new SAT emphasizes higher-level reasoning, and the College Board spells out the makeup of each section. This leads to more transparency for the student, as well as less test anxiety. The SAT score is based on 800 points for each section with a total of 1600 points.

Visit our other resource page for SAT and ACT testing. Test Prep: Methods of Study

About the Author

Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]

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