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Should I Take the SAT or the ACT?

by | Aug 22, 2019 | ACT Prep, Education, SAT Prep, Test Strategies, Tutoring | 0 comments

Should I Take the SAT or the ACT?

Almost every college accepts both the SAT and the ACT. So, most students should choose the test that suits them best and prepare for that test exclusively. The best way to determine which test is best for you is by taking a released practice test. The conditions for taking the practice test should be as similar as possible to what it will be like to take the real test, meaning that you should time the test sections and follow the directions in the testing script for that exam. Most students should prepare for the test that they do better on when comparing your practice test scores using the concordance tables. Click here to see why some students may choose to prepare for both tests.

If your SAT and ACT practice test scores are very similar or if you have too little time to take two practice tests, another factor to consider is which test is the best fit for you. Most students have a test that they prefer. Although the format of the SAT and ACT have become more similar there are many subtle differences between the two tests.

You May Want to Consider Taking the SAT if:

Time Limits Stress You Out  

If you panic when faced with time limits or really want to get to every question, then the SAT is for you.  On the SAT you get 1 minute and 10 seconds per question whereas on the ACT you only get 49 seconds per question.

You Do Not Excel at Science

The SAT does not have a specific science section like the ACT does.  Although the SAT does include passages and questions on science in each of its sections, a lack of science content knowledge is less likely to impact your score on the SAT. On the ACT there is a seperate science score, and on the SAT you only receive scores for reading and writing and math.

You Will Take Advantage of Lots of Free Practice

The SAT has a free mobile app with daily practice, free comprehensive practice through the Khan Academy, and free downloadable practice tests. Students can link their previous official PSAT and SAT test scores to Khan Academy for customized practice on their weak areas. There are also diagnostic quizzes available for students who have not taken an official exam which use answered questions to customize practice.

You Did Not Like Geometry Class

The SAT has far less Geometry than the ACT.  It also includes a formula sheet whereas the ACT does not.

You Can Analyze Text Well but Get Frustrated Locating Specific Details 

The SAT includes line numbers with many questions making details easier to find. The SAT reading questions also go in order according to the sequence of the passage. 

You May Want to Consider Taking the ACT if:

You Know the Right Answer, but Can’t Explain Why

The SAT contains “evidence-based” questions where you have to find the part of the passage that supports your answer to a previous question.

You Like Your Calculator

The SAT has a “no calculator” math section and the ACT does not. If you prefer using a calculator for all types of math problems, you may prefer the ACT.

You Struggle with Vocabulary or Dislike Complex Reading 

The SAT still contains more complex vocabulary, harder passages, and more words even in the math section. Many students who struggle with vocabulary or have not done as much difficult or varied reading prefer the ACT. However, it is worth considering that the Reading score on the SAT can be pulled up with a high writing score since the section scores are combined.

You Understand Experimental Design

SAT science questions are focused on reading charts and graphs while ACT science questions test your knowledge of experimental design.

You Like Each Topic Neatly Separated Into Its Own Section

The SAT is designed so that there is an integration of knowledge across the sections. Although tested in separate sections, on the SAT, English (which is called writing) and reading scores are combined into one score, Reading and Writing. On the ACT, English and reading are seperate scores. On the SAT, you will find charts and graphs in the reading section. If you prefer your graphs in the math section, you may like the ACT test.

There also may be several other factors worth considering. Some high schools offer official SAT or ACT tests and prep. If a certain test is offered with free preparation at your school, you may want to strongly consider that test. It is also worth checking out the dates that the SAT and ACT are offered. Some dates may suit your schedule better than others. Once you make a decision about which test to prepare for, the next step is to set goals based on the colleges you are considering and make a study plan. Make sure that you are allowing plenty of time to study. Look at your schedule and consider the other time commitments that you may have. If you took a practice test, go over it and think about how many skills you need to review and practice before taking the official exam. Use this information to determine when you will take the official test and plan backwards to ensure that adequate study time is blocked off. Plan more time than you think you will need so that you have some extra time built in just in case it takes more effort to adequately prepare than you were anticipating or something unexpected comes up.

-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.
Owner | Parrish Learning Zone, LLC

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                                       ~Nina

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
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Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
Andrew Powers
Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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