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There are a number of substantive differences between the two tests. We believe this question is best addressed before junior year, when there is time to administer an SAT/ACT diagnostic, make a determination about which test is more appropriate, and then subsequently undertake a course of study.

In general, we do not believe that the two tests should be studied for concurrently. Although some students do end up taking both the SAT and ACT, we believe that the two tests should not be prepared for at the same time. Doing so, in our experience, only leads to higher levels of stress and unnecessary confusion regarding the content and structure of each test.

The SAT might be the better test if:

  • Your child is strong in Math, which is ½ of the SAT 

  • Your child performed particularly well across Algebra II topics (the SAT features more advanced math topics than the ACT)

  • Your child prefers a reading comprehension format where each passage only affects a single question

The ACT might be the better test if:

  • Your child reads and analyzes quickly (the ACT Reading Test has 40 questions that need to be answered in only 35 minutes)

  • Your child is more academic than test savvy (the ACT is more akin to a test he or she would take in school)

  • Your child can efficiently read information related indirectly to science (the ACT features a 35-minute, 40-question Science Test)


A Side-By-Side Comparison of the SAT and ACT

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