top of page



Although the number of test-optional schools is growing, most colleges still require students to submit standardized test scores. All schools allow you a choice between the SAT and ACT. The question remains – which one should you take?

Be strategic. The SAT is more of a general reasoning and problem-solving test, while the ACT focuses on specific high school curricula. You need to determine which test plays into your individual strengths.

Some of the more specific differences between the tests are:

  • The SAT tests vocabulary much more than the ACT.

  • The SAT has a mandatory writing section; that section is optional in the ACT.

  • The SAT deducts points for wrong answers; the ACT does not.

  • The ACT tests English grammar; the SAT does not.

  • The ACT math section includes trigonometry, while the SAT’s does not.

  • The ACT includes a science section; the SAT does not.

So, if you excel in math and science, the ACT might be your best opportunity to shine. If you’re a strong writer with a sophisticated vocabulary, you might opt for the SAT. But how can you be sure?

As you prepare for either test, whether in a formal class or on your own, you’ll have the opportunity to take sample SAT and ACT tests. This will give you some concrete feedback. And, keep in mind, if you start taking the tests in the spring of your junior year, you’ll have time to retake either.

And BTW, there’s no law that says you can’t take both.

For more on the SAT, click here. For more on the ACT, click here.

bottom of page