Many students have this dilemma: whether to go for SAT or ACT?
To get clarity on this issue, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. To begin with, let’s talk about SAT. The reading section of SAT has 52 questions from five passages. You are required to answer these questions in 65 minutes. The passages come from various topics, such as: American or World Literature, History or Social Studies, and science. Although there is no specific order of the passages, you can find the topic from the blurb. Every passage has one. The questions are of different variety ranging from explicit details to implied meaning. There are also multi-source questions, in which you have to refer to two different sources to get the answers.
On ACT, you will have 35 minutes to solve 40 questions from four passages. This means time factor is crucial here. If you are slow on reading the passages then ACT is not your cup of tea. In contrast, if you could read fast and understand the passage as well then the reading section of ACT could be a blessing for you. As the questions are more direct compared to SAT, you could answer those in the limited time. The passages always come in specific order, so you don’t have to bother identifying the topics of the passages. You could start the passage which you feel easier for you so that you have extra time for those passages which you may find difficult.
To sum it up, if you are a not a fast reader but a good reader who can comprehend the writing at your own pace then you may want to write SAT. On the other hand, if you are a fast reader with good comprehension skills then ACT could prove a great scoring option for you.
Let’s discuss another important subject on SAT: writing and language, typically called grammar section by many students. You get 35 minutes to complete 44 questions. Many students may consider this section miser on time, but once you start working on them, time is definitely not your concern. The section is primarily divided into two types of questions, though the questions are mixed. There are proofreader questions, which focus mainly on grammar aspect of the test, and editor questions, which focus on enhancement of the text. The questions are nearly equally divided into these two categories.
In contrast, ACT has 75 questions to be completed in 45 minutes. This may look more demanding on time but more questions on grammar concepts make this section more appealing to the students. If you grammar concepts are sound, then definitely the ACT grammar section is comparatively easier.
To sum it up, if you reading and analyzing skills are good then SAT could be easier for you, and if you have acumen for grammar details then you can be a ROCKSTAR in ACT.
Finally let’s talk about the science passages. SAT has two passages on science. Although the passages still test you on your reading comprehension skills, you may find answering these questions easier compared to history and literature passages. ACT has one separate section of science passages. Similar to reading section, the science section too has 40 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. Again, the questions on this section are more direct. If you have basic science knowledge the answering these questions would a cake walk.
On the whole, there are not so many things you need to worry about to decide whether to go for SAT or ACT. Reading skills along with speed means you could go for ACT. If you only have reading skills then go for SAT. If you have a flair for science reading then go for ACT otherwise go for SAT. If you have better editor’s skills then you may opt for SAT, and if you have better grammar skills then ACT is your best bet. If science is your pet subject then you might want to go for ACT.
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However, note Colleges or Universities in US don’t discriminate one over the other. Almost all of them accept either of them during admissions process.