By Kristen Fu
High school students face many choices, one of which is whether to take the SAT or the ACT. Standardized testing remains a requirement for US colleges, so students, mostly juniors and seniors, have to take time out of their busy schedules to prepare for this test. SAT and ACT are the two primary standardized tests accepted by colleges.
In previous years, the SAT was the more popular option amongst students, but, since the new format of the SAT was implemented in 2016, more students now opt to take the ACT. Students can struggle to decide which standardized test to do. Ultimately, by reviewing key differences between the tests, students can decide which one is the best fit for them.
The SAT and the ACT are both content-based tests, but differ in the knowledge they test. For the SAT, the three sections are Reading, Math, and Writing and Language. On the other hand, the ACT has four sections: Reading, Math, English, and Science. Despite the ACT having more sections, the questions that make up the test are regarded as more straightforward and less difficult to understand than the SAT’s evidence and context-based questions. With the SAT, the difficulty of the questions rises as the section continues while the the difficulty on the ACT is random. These are just some of the key differences that students take into account when deciding which standardized test will give them a higher chance at a better score.
Many students are preparing to take either the SAT or the ACT right now. Students who decided on the ACT voiced a variety of reasons for their choice. Michelle Zhou, a junior who took the ACT in October, said “I took the ACT because even though it has a science section and the SAT doesn’t, I personally feel that the time restrictions of the ACT doesn’t have a negative effect on my performance… I prefer the straightforwardness of the ACT’s questions.” Hanwen Cao, a junior who is taking it in December, “I feel like the SAT is more American-centric and doesn’t take into account the international students, which made me choose the ACT instead.”
On the other hand, students that chose the SAT based their decision on the format and differences between the tests. Grace Deng, a junior who is taking the SAT in December, said “I chose the SAT because I took a mock of the ACT, and found it really boring.”