Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished helps you decide whether to take the ACT or SAT, or both.

If you want a more straightforward format, no guessing penalty, and don’t mind science then go for the ACT test. If you prefer a test that requires more logic and you have the time and money to have a tutor teach you the techniques and strategies necessary to beat the SAT, then go for the SAT test.

Test Preparation

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi, everyone, Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped and Polished LLC here in
Boston. Now, the ACT or the SAT, most colleges accept either test. So which
one should you choose? Well, there are pros and cons for each test, so
let’s get to them.

The ACT has no guessing penalty. The SAT has a quarter point deduction for
wrong answers. The ACT has four answer choices except on the math. It has
five. The SAT has five answer choices throughout the test. So what does
that mean? Well, that means if you have test anxiety, get nervous during
tests, you might want to go ACT, because there’s just less things to worry
about. There’s no guessing penalty and there’s less answer choices.

Okay, what else? The ACT with essay writing is three hours and 20 minutes
long. Now, if you decide not to take the ACT without the essay, subtract 30
minutes from that. The SAT has an essay always, and it’s three hours and 45
minutes always. So it’s a longer test than the ACT. So if you’re a student
who gets easily distracted, you might want to go ACT. It’s a shorter test.

The ACT has one section per component. It has one English section, it has
one math, one reading, one science, and then you don’t see it ever again.
The SAT has three sections per component, and it’s kind of in random order.
There’s some predictability, but for the most part the sections are
peppered in random order.

The ACT is a more academic-oriented test. So what does that mean? Well,
that means that if you’re a solid student — academic student — you’ll
probably do well on the ACT. But what it also means is that you don’t
necessarily need a tutor to help you prepare for the ACT. As long as you
are a self-motivated student, you can take many ACT practice tests, learn
ACT content, and you’ll better your score.

The SAT, though, is a more logic-oriented based test, and the help of a
tutor can help your score a lot. Now, you’ll need money to hire a good
tutor, so just keep that in mind. If you have the money to do it, hire one.
A SAT tutor will teach you the tips and strategies necessarily to overcome
that guessing penalty obstacle that you find on the SAT.

Okay, so overall, if you want a more straightforward test, no guessing
penalty, and you don’t mind science, then go ACT. But just keep in mind, on
the ACT, the science section is not that bad science. It’s more like
reading charts and graphs. So it’s not profound science at all, so don’t
let that deter you from taking the ACT. But if you want a more
straightforward test, go ACT. If you want a more logic test, and you have
the money to hire a good tutor to help you learn tricks and strategies, go

Now, a final parting shot. If you don’t know which test to take, take a
practice test for the ACT and the SAT, score it, and then you’ll know which
test to take. Maybe you’ll take both.

I wish you good luck, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Are you considering the ACT or the SAT test? Is one test better than the other?

Post your tips/comments below.

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