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ACT or SAT – A Students Perspective

The summer before Year 12, similar to many other pre-Sixth Form students, I was faced with a massive question: ‘Do I do the ACT or SAT?’. If you want to apply to universities in US, I’m sure you’ve at least briefly thought of this and perhaps even struggling to choose one amongst the 2 options. Allow me to share my thought process it may assist you in taking a decision.

Lets start with the background. The SAT and ACT are both standardised tests which are required by most American colleges as apart of your application. Both the tests are roughly the same time with the SAT being three hours (three hours and 50 minutes long with the essay) and the ACT being two hours and 55 minutes long (three hours and 35 minutes with the essay). Both the tests are split into four sections.
For the SAT:
Reading section (65 minutes),
Writing and language section (35 minutes),
Math NO calculator (25 minutes) and
Math calculator (55 minutes).

The ACT is slightly different:
English section (45 minutes),
Math section (60 minutes),
Reading section (35 minutes) and
Science section (35 minutes).

Now that you have a brief idea on what the two tests are like, let me share the 3 main points that drove me towards my decision.

    • The different sections were the first thing that caught my eye – I have never enjoyed Math, as much as English and Reading hence it made sense that the ACT would seem like the more attractive option.
    • Moreover, the limited time you have in each section of the ACT mean that you have to be able to work quicker on slightly easier questions compared to the SAT where you would perhaps have more time to work on slightly more challenging questions. This appealed to me, as I have always been a fast worker.
    • Lastly, I did a diagnostic test and did much better on the ACT and found that it felt more suited to me than the SAT.

So all in all, I assessed which test was right for me to achieve the best score possible and backed up that prediction by completing a diagnostic that led me to my final decision: doing the ACT!

Written for AURA Test Prep by Hannah