The ACT is curriculum based, that is, the questions are aimed more at what you actually learn in High School. Therefore the ACT is more knowledge based and straightforward. The SAT on the other hand is more of a reasoning test which favors students who have excellent problem solving skills. The format of the ACT consists of three mini tests—Math, English and Science with an optional 30 minute writing test.
While the ACT is shorter (2 hours 55 minutes vs. 3 hours 45 minutes for the SAT), it is more time intensive—the student must answer each question quickly in order to get through an entire section in the allotted time.
Many college advisors contend there are two distinct groups of students which may score much higher on one test or the other. High achievers who get the highest grades in the most difficult classes through hard work generally do better on the ACT. Gifted underachievers who are bored in class generally do better on the SAT. Which type of student are you?
My advice for all High School juniors is simple. After you receive your May or June SAT score, check to see whether your SAT score fits into the admissions criteria for the schools you will be applying to. If not, purchase The Real ACT Prep Guide (2nd Edition) and familiarize yourself with the test during the summer.
Take the ACT in September or October of your senior year. Whichever test yields the highest score, send the scores of that test along with your college application. It’s a no lose proposition.
As a special offer to welcome2college readers, Steven is offering a FREE SAT Summer Study Guide; send your request to Steve@testniques.com
Steven N. Weisman is an author and private SAT Tutor. Many valuable test strategies and information can be found on his blog and website http://www.testniques.com.