Decide Whether the ACT or SAT is Right for You

Junior Regan Bates takes a practice ACT in the Student Commons. Photo: Eden Kerker

Dreadful standardized tests frustrate juniors as they begin the college process. The SAT and ACT tests consume a lot of time, in that juniors are tasked with doing many hours of ACT or SAT prep and practice tests in addition to heavy work loads, sports and extracurricular activities.

The ACT is composed of English, math, reading and science sections, whereas the SAT includes reading, English, calculator math and non-calculator math. One of the biggest differences between the two tests is the timing. The SAT is a better test to take for people who feel that they need extra time.

“I take the ACT and it’s really hard for me to finish the sections,” said junior Calla Kaminsky. “It’s more for the reading and science sections than any other.” The ACT reading section allots 35 minutes for 40 questions and the SAT reading section allots 65 minutes for 52 questions. “I had such a hard time with timing so I had to switch to the SAT,” said junior Nicole Petrosky. “The questions are harder but at least I can finish the sections now. I’m also not freaking out and rushing the whole time so I feel like I get more questions right when I’m calmer.”

The ACT tends to be more straightforward than the SAT. But, even though you get less time to answer each question, it still takes a lot of brain power to fight through the questions. The other big difference between the tests is how the ACT also includes a science section, which seems to be one of the harder sections. Although some students despise the science section because of the timing and their unfamiliarity with it, some students love it. “The science section is my best section,” said junior Jenny Luetters. “You don’t really need to know a lot of science. It’s just reading graphs.”

If you are a sophomore or a junior still unsure about what test to take, make sure you think about all of the pros and cons for each test. Take both tests and see what’s right for you. If you get similar scores, choose the test that you feel most comfortable with. However, don’t be afraid to switch from one test to another.