The Difference Between ACT and SAT

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The modernized SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is designed to mimic the ACT (American College Testing) test, so both are very similar though there are a few differences. Colleges use the test scores from the SAT or the ACT as part of their Admission Requirements for new students, so you have to have a certain score or above to gain Admission to a college, and that score baseline is different based on the college. But you don’t need to take both tests to gain college Admission. One or the other score will suffice if it is high enough. In fact taking both may hurt your chances of getting into the school of your choice.

Similarities Between ACT and SAT

• Both are timed aptitude tests
• Both are used by colleges to meet entrance requirements and as a basis for certain scholarship requirements
• Both test for math, reading, and certain English skills
• Both offer optional essay questions
• In math, both test for certain algebra I and II, geometry and trigonometry aptitude skills
• Both tests are approximately 3-4 hours long, depending on whether or not you do the essay question

Differences Between the ACT and SAT

• There is a science section on the SAT. This section tests for aptitude in science and perception, not existing knowledge
• There are 5 reading sections in the SAT compared to 4 reading sections in the ACT
• The ACT and SAT are scored on a different scale as the ACT scores with a simple 1-36 whereas the SAT uses a slightly more complex 400-1600 scoring system
• You can use a calculator for the entire math section of the ACT, but that is not so for the SAT
• The ACT test also tests for certain data analysis skills
• The essay questions are different in content, the ACT essay requires a supported argument of your own whereas the SAT provides a pre-written argument that you simply critique

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