Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

Test Prep
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Struggling to decide whether you should take the SAT or the ACT? While both are widely-accepted college entrance exams, there are some differences between the two. We’re here to help make your decision easier! Here are some of the key differences to help determine whether you should take the SAT or ACT.

Consider taking the SAT if:

  • You want more time

The SAT allows for three hours (with an optional 50-minute essay), while the ACT gives you two hours and 55 minutes, with an optional 40-minute essay. It may not seem like a big difference, but if you get anxious under pressure, having those extra few minutes can help.

  • You want less science

If science isn’t your strong suit, you might want to consider taking the SAT. While you will find a few science questions scattered throughout the different sections on the SAT, you won’t have to take an entire section on it like you will on the ACT.

  • English is your strong suit

The SAT is heavily focused on English elements including reading and comprehension, writing, and vocabulary. If English is a strength, you’ll likely do better on the SAT reading and writing sections.

Consider taking the ACT if:

  • You want help from a calculator

The SAT includes two math sections: one where you’re allowed to use a calculator and one where you’re not. If you’re worried about taking the math section, without a calculator, consider taking the ACT. In the ACT’s math section, you’ll be allowed to use your calculator throughout.

  • You want more science

The ACT includes a 35-minute science; the SAT does not. But you don’t have to be a science genius to do well on it. It focuses more on critical thinking related to science questions than actual science content.

  • You’re not crazy about English

While the ACT included English and reading sections, the ACT tends to test less complex concepts and vocabulary and is focused on more real-world knowledge.

How to Decide

If you’re still unsure about whether to take the SAT or ACT, try taking a practice test for each. This will help you see how you feel during the test and how you’ll perform on each. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s all about what you feel most comfortable with. Ultimately, though, don’t stress! Most colleges accept either exam, so find what works best for you, and go with it!