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.

Most colleges accept either the ACT or the SAT. So which one should you choose? Well, each test has pros and cons, 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 for math, which has five. The SAT has five answer choices throughout the test. So what does that mean? Well, that means if you have test anxiety or get nervous during tests, you might want to go ACT because there are just fewer things to worry about. There’s no guessing penalty, and there are fewer 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 always has an essay, and it’s three hours and 45 minutes. 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, one math, one reading, and 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 academic student, you’ll probably do well on the ACT. But it also means 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 and learn ACT content, and you’ll improve your score. The SAT, though, is a more logic-oriented 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. An SAT tutor will teach you the tips and strategies necessary to overcome that guessing penalty obstacle you find on the SAT.

ACT or SAT: Which one to choose

Overall, if you want a more straightforward test with no guessing penalty and you don’t mind science, then go for 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 logical test and have the money to hire a good tutor to help you learn tricks and strategies, go for the SAT.

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?

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