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Which test to take - ACT or SAT?

What is ACT?

The ACT (American College Testing Assessment) is an examination that is expected to measure a candidate’'s academic achievement in four basic areas, namely, English, Math, Reading and Sciences. There is also an optional writing test, which includes a short essay. Quite a few universities and colleges require the scores of the ACT examination as a basic requirement for entry.

The ACT exam is for about three hours with a small break between the second and third test. There are usually 215 scored questions that are in the multiple-choice format. The optional writing test is for thirty minutes where an essay test that measures the writing skills is given. More information about ACT can be obtained from www.act.org - the official ACT website.


What i’s the difference between SAT and ACT?

The ACT is a test that measures what the student has learned in school, while the SAT tests critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some of the differences between the two tests are:
  1. ACT has four sections on English, Math, Reading and Science while SAT has only three. ACT has a section on Science, which is not available in SAT.
  2. ACT's four sections are each scored on 36 and the average score of the four sections is taken as the composite score whereas SAT is scored on 2400 points with 800 points for each section.
  3. SAT has a mandatory writing section whereas ACT has an optional writing section.
  4. Fraction of a point is subtracted for every incorrect answer in SAT (except in one area) whereas there is no negative marking in ACT.


Which test to choose: SAT or ACT?

The question on whether to take up ACT or SAT depends primarily on the strengths and weaknesses of the student taking up the test. But the basic condition on which the test must be chosen is the requirement of the college that the student has applied to. Quite a few colleges accept both ACT and SAT.

Any serious college aspirant will first shortlist the colleges that he or she wants to apply to. Then do a quick check on the websites of the colleges for programs that one is applying to and find out which scores are accepted by that college. Should a need arise, do not hesitate to take both these tests.