Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

Neither the SAT nor the ACT is “easier” or “harder” than the other. But. Yes, different students tend to do better on one than they do on the other.

Certain students are practically built to take the ACT and find themselves struggling with the SAT – and vice versa. You need to understand that both of these are COMPARATIVE exams. It’s not about how you score– it’s about how you score against everyone else who’s taking them. Therefore, if you can get an edge on one test over the other, take that one!

Thus, First things first! You need to figure out which test you should be taking in the first place. We start by discussing the differences between these two exams. Then, we’ll figure out which one is the right one for you.

“The SAT and the ACT test are almost identical materials – with a few key exceptions.”

Both have optional essays. Both have math sections, reading comprehension and grammar sections. And, for most of the part, the material tested by these are practically identical.

1. The SAT no longer emphasises challenging vocabulary words.
2. The ACT tests slightly more complex, more advanced math.
3. The SAT and ACT needs similar grammatical and writing skills for the English/ Writing+Language sections, and for  essays
4. The essays you have to write are different. Not easier or harder, but different.
5. The ACT has a “science” section that has NOTHING  to do with science.

Now the question is if the material is so similar, then what is the difference between these tests? The difference between these two tests comes down to one key concept:

“The ACT is insanely more fast-paced and “time-intensive” than the SAT!”

The ACT is ludicrously time rigorous and forces you to answer far more problems.

Now that you have a better idea of the two tests, let’s get down to: which test should you take? Fortunately, the answer is remarkably simple to figure out.

Colleges never acknowledge one test over the other – they just prefer the highest score you have acquired. And you’re almost sure to do better on one test than the other.

How do I Decide?

Step 1

Get yourself the official test books for both the exams. These books have real SATs and ACTs, and real grading rubrics.

Step 2

Look through each test. Don’t actually take these tests. Just look through each section and get a “feel” for what each test is like. You might already be done at this point – If the ACT looks doable, keep moving with it. If it looks like a complete utter nightmare, strictly stick with the SAT.

Step 3

Set aside three hours for two consecutive weekends for your Decision Tests.

Weekend 1: Complete an entire reading section of the ACT and an entire reading section of the SAT.
Grade both. See which one gives you a better comparative score.

Weekend 2: Complete sections 3 and 4 of the New SAT. Complete an entire math section of the ACT.
Grade both. See which one gives you a better score.

Step 4

How to use your result comparisons: If one set of scores is significantly higher than the other, that’s the test you’re going to take. If both scores are similar, or if they’re lopsided (i.e. math was better on the ACT, but reading was better on the SAT), pick the test that you LIKED MORE.

Step 5

Start studying immediately: Let metrics lead the way. If your ACT scores leads your SAT scores, then start preparing yourself for the ACT immediately and vice versa. If they’re similar, pick the one you want to and is fond taking.


Now that you have chosen the right test for yourself, go ahead prepare for it so that you can make it to the top universities in the world. Share with us your views on which one of the two you should prepare for. The ACT or the SAT?