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Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

Preparing for college can be stressful and demanding. After all, college isn’t all about frat parties and cheering on the basketball team – you have to show some level of academic success in order to be accepted. Knowing that you have a looming standardized test doesn’t help when it comes to your anxiety, either. Most colleges accept the SAT and the ACT, but how do you know which test you should take? Read on to learn how to choose between the SAT and the ACT.

Requirements of the College or University

If you have a specific college in mind, find out what they require and what they prefer to see. For example, some colleges may require either the SAT or the ACT, but the Admissions Department may have a preference. Taking the test that they need is necessary, but taking the test that they want is important, too. Colleges that require SAT scores often want to see up to three SAT Subject Tests, which means that they’ll want the SAT II. ACT tests come in two forms: with a writing portion and without. Most colleges will want to see the ACT that includes an essay portion.

Differences Between the SAT and the ACT

The SAT tests for three subjects: English, math and reading. The test is broken into ten sections. Each section includes a mixture of questions across the three subject areas. One of the ten sections doesn’t count towards the SAT score. The ACT tests for English, math, reading and science, in that order. The test is composed of four sections, each one dedicated to one subject. The science section tests reading comprehension. Students should have a basic scientific vocabulary and an understanding of experiment procedure, graphs and charts.

Which is the Best Choice?

If the college you’re applying to needs either the SAT or the ACT, then your mind is made up for you. What if it’s not that clear cut, though? If you have a strong academic background in high school, you may want to opt for the ACT. This is especially true if you’re strong in both math and science. If you’re not strong in those subject areas, you’ll want to take the SAT. The best way to determine which test to take is to take practice tests for both the SAT and the ACT. If you do well on both tests, then take both of them.

Arash Fayz

Author Arash Fayz

Arash has been a professional in the educational field for over 10 years. He started his teaching career as an SAT instructor in 2003, while receiving a graduate degree in applied mathematics and computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles. He now uses his expertise to manage the day-to-day operations of LA Tutors and also regularly contributes to the LA Tutors blog.

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