Take the New SAT if you…
#1: Panic when faced with time limits
One of the most noticeable differences between the redesigned SAT and the ACT is the amount of time per question—you have much more of it on the SAT. This doesn’t actually make the SAT easier, since its actual questions tend to be harder, but it does mean that the ACT feels like more of a time crunch than the SAT.
As such, doing well on the ACT requires calm in the face of time limits. If you struggle to move through material quickly or tend to panic, you’ll likely do better with the SAT.
#2: Can’t stand the idea of not getting to every question
On the SAT, you have enough time to get to most of the questions, as long as you use it wisely. On the ACT, you probably won’t finish all of the sections unless you’re scoring a 30 or above.
If you have an obsessive need to answer every single question, you should stick to the SAT.
SAT reading questions almost always give you the line number where you can find the relevant information. Even if they don’t give you the exact location, the questions are in order, so it’s rarely difficult to find information in the passage.
ACT reading questions, on the other hand, are randomly ordered and frequently don’t give line numbers, so finding specific details in the passage is one of the trickiest parts. If you struggle with retaining or finding details, you will probably prefer the new SAT.
#4: Struggle with geometry
ACT math has over three times as many geometry questions as the math section on the redesigned SAT. Plus, for the ACT, you need to memorize all the formulas, while on the SAT you’re given them at the beginning of the section.
If you have a very hard time with geometry, consider taking the new SAT.
#5: Want to encounter as little science as possible
The ACT has a science section; the SAT, both new and old, does not. If you dislike science or struggle with quantitative thinking, you will probably prefer the SAT.
The redesigned SAT does include science questions in each of its three sections, so there’s no way to escape science entirely. Nonetheless, struggling with science will have less of an effect on your score on the new SAT than it will on the ACT.
#6: Excel at writing analytical essays in English class
The new SAT essay asks you to read and analyze a persuasive essay, much like you might for a class assignment. If you like English class, you’ll almost certainly prefer the new SAT essay to the ACT one.
That being said, neither essay effects your overall score, so a preference for one or the other shouldn’t play a major role in your decision between the two tests.
Biltmore Tutoring’s SAT/ACT Diagnostic Test will help you decide which test is the best test for you. Call to schedule a free practice test, complete with a nine-page diagnostic indicating our scientific approach to determining which test is the right one for you.
Remember, you’ll have to prep for whichever test you choose.
Take the ACT if you…
#1: Struggle with vocabulary
Although it no longer has sentence completions questions, the redesigned SAT still tests more challenging vocabulary on both the reading and writing sections. It also has harder passages on the reading section and more vocab questions overall.
The ACT is the better test if you want to avoid higher-level words like “satiated” and “apprehensive” and older passages with challenging language.
#2: Can’t always explain how you know an answer is correct
One of the big changes to the SAT is the addition of evidence questions on the reading section. These questions ask you to point to the part of the passage that supports your answer to another question—#14 is an example:
Evidence questions aren’t as novel as they might seem at first, since, in theory, you should always be able to point to the support for your answer in the passage. But if this is a skill you really struggle with, consider taking the ACT instead.
#3: Are intimidated by doing math without a calculator
The new SAT has a no-calculator section, so if the idea of doing math without a calculator has you completely freaked out, you may want to stick to the ACT.
However, the no-calculator section really doesn’t require any complicated calculations. In fact, all of the math questions on both tests can be done without a calculator, though some are rather challenging.
The question is really whether you feel comfortable doing some basic calculations by hand. If not, the new SAT will be a challenge for you.
#4: Prefer that different topics be tested in different sections
One of the goals of the SAT redesign is to integrate important skills across all three sections, so there’s more overlap between the different sections than on the ACT.
One key example of this new policy is the presence of quantitative questions in the reading and writing sections of the new SAT. If you’d prefer to avoid this kind of concept mixing, stick with the ACT.
#5: Have a solid grasp of experimental design
If you like science, and especially if you have a good understanding of how experiments are built and know the difference between independent and dependent variables, consider taking the ACT.
The ACT asks a lot of questions about experimental design while the SAT new science questions are solely focused on reading charts and graphs. A strong grasp of these concepts will give you a considerable leg up on the ACT.
#6: Like to give your opinion
The ACT essay is all about arguing for your own point (unlike the new SAT essay, which is about analyzing someone else’s argument). If you enjoy stating your opinion and marshaling examples to back it up, then you will probably prefer the ACT essay.
Remember, however, that you may not need to take the essay at all and that, even if you do, it doesn’t affect your overall score.
Biltmore Tutoring’s SAT/ACT Diagnostic Test will help you decide which test – SAT or ACT – is the best test for you. Call to schedule a free practice test, complete with a nine-page diagnostic indicating our scientific approach to determining which test is the right one for you.