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Should You Take the SAT or ACT?

Most universities will accept either the SAT or the ACT, and you get to choose which one you will take. Neither is necessarily easier, harder, or better than the other. It depends on your strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Here are some of the key differences between the two tests to help you decide which is best for you.

ACT Is More Direct

SAT questions will require you to think a bit about what they are asking. ACT questions, on the other hand, are generally easier to understand. If you prefer the questions to be more straightforward, consider taking the ACT.

Vocabulary Heavy

The SAT is very heavy on vocabulary knowledge. If you feel strong in this area, the SAT may be the better test for you.


The ACT has a Science section, which the SAT does not. It is not a test of your knowledge of scientific facts but of your scientific reading and reasoning abilities. If the scientific method is one of your strong points, you may be well suited for the ACT.


The SAT tests your math skills in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. The ACT also includes trigonometry, so the ACT math section has some more advanced questions. This does not mean that the ACT math section is harder, because many students find the questions to be more straightforward than the SAT.


The ACT’s writing section is voluntary, though most universities require it. If the schools you are applying to do not require you to submit a writing score, you can opt for the ACT and avoid the extra hurdle. Be aware that both tests report the writing score separately. The SAT writing section comes first, while the ACT’s is done at the end. If test fatigue will be an issue for you, the SAT’s format may be the choice for you.

Go With the Flow

The SAT is broken up into ten sections, starting with the essay, then rotating through math, reading, and writing sections. Alternatively, the ACT takes each subject area in chunks with the optional writing test at the end. If you are comfortable moving between subject areas in short stints, you should consider the SAT. If you do better focusing on one subject at a time, the ACT may be better for you.

Composite Score

The overall SAT score is broken up into Critical Reading, Math, and Writing scores, and college admissions officers want to know how you perform in each category.  The ACT offers one composite score encompassing everything except writing. If you are aware of a weakness in one section and can compensate for it with strengths in other sections of the test, the ACT’s composite score may be the way to put your best foot forward.

For Tutoring in Oviedo

If you need SAT or ACT test preparation help, call The Tutoring Center in Oviedo at 407-202-4890. Look at our one-to-one tutoring programs in math, reading, writing, and test prep and call for a free diagnostic assessment.


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