Which test to take

The differences between the SAT and ACT

Andrew Madsen, Reporter

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Testing (ACT) are notorious for being two of the most important tests students have to take in order to get into colleges that they want. While they are essential for the college admission process, the two tests have some differences in scoring, timing, and structure. 

The SAT has a three hour time limit with an optional essay that could add an extra 50 minutes. This gives people who take the SAT approximately one minute and ten  seconds per question. On the other hand, the ACT has a time of two hours and 55 minutes, giving students approximately 49 seconds to answer each question. 

The SAT has a score range from 400-1600, while the ACT has a score range from 1-36. Scoring on the ACT is determined by the average score a test-taker gets on all four sections, also known as the “composite score”. On the other hand, the score adds the reading and writing sections and math section together.  Test takers can get between 200-800 points on the evidence based reading and writing section and 200-800 points on the math section. 

The SAT contains two math sessions, one with a calculator and one without. There is no science section, unlike the ACT, and the reading level on the SAT is higher than on the ACT. Because of the difficulty, the reading section is longer on the SAT.  

Jacob Biener, counselor, said determining which test people should take completely depends on their preference.

“At Battle, when we host the national ACTs, we usually have 100-150 students signed up, while when we host the SAT is usually 20-40 students. I believe the SAT is very underutilized and would be a great option for students to take,” Biener said. 

Other counselors note that the test people take won’t make a difference to what colleges people want to get into; however, some colleges have a preference depending on where they are located.

“Getting the best score will help open doors for college admission, scholarships, specific program admission, and course placement,” Anna McMillen, counselor, said. 

Logan Tinsely, a sophomore, recommends taking both tests for many reasons. 

“Taking both the ACT and the SAT is a good idea because it will increase your chances of being accepted by colleges, and help you if you get a bad score on one of the tests but not both,” Tinsely said. 

While colleges look at everyone’s  ACT or SAT score when deciding if they should accept someone, McMillen said colleges also look at the courses a student has taken and their Grade Point Average (GPA). 

“Colleges could also use your score to place you in a class. Let’s say you have a composite score that gets you accepted into college, but you do not meet the math requirements to go straight to college algebra, you will need to take an intermediate math class in college,” McMillen said.  

If anyone would like to learn more information about the tests and which would work well for test takers, McMillen says talking to a counselor would be helpful.