The ACT is better than the SAT and here’s why

Eliza Carlton, Features Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

As a high school student, I have suffered through years of standardized testing, none comparing to the stress and expectations that come with taking the SAT and ACT.  While test taking skills differ from person to person, I stand firm in my preference of the ACT.

In deciding which test was better, I analyzed price, material tested and timing.  Perhaps the most important of these is material tested.

 The ACT is divided into four sections: english, math, reading and science. One of the best parts about ACT reading sections is that they have an easier reading level compared to the SAT.  So, while the SAT reading sections vary from a ninth grade reading level to early college reading levels, the ACT is consistently closer to a ninth or tenth grade level. Therefore, although time per question is shortened on the ACT by a few seconds, the questions themselves are often easier.

Additionally, while the SAT has two math sections, the ACT has only one. Considering math is what I score the worst in when it comes to standardized testing, this is a huge positive.  

Some students may be intimidated by the science section of the ACT.  However, once you realize the science section requires virtually no actual science knowledge, it can be easy to perfect.  On the other hand, the SAT has no science section and instead has both a calculator inactive and active math section and requires students to answer fill-in-the-blank questions. The ACT is solely multiple choice, so you always have the option of guessing with a 25% chance of being correct.  Since the SAT has fill-in-the-blank questions, which leave limitless options for answers, guessing is significantly harder.

As for price, the ACT (no essay) is $39.50, while the SAT (no essay) is $43.00.  Maybe this difference is small, but if you are like me, and have taken these tests many times, it adds up.  

To reiterate, different people prefer different types of tests.  I for one only took the SAT twice. I quite literally did worse the second time.  It was at this point that I realized the ACT was more my speed. While it still took three too many tries to get a score I was happy with, I’m glad I chose the ACT.  

If you are good at interpreting trends and graphs and know your way with a calculator, the ACT may also be the test for you.  Additionally, if you typically finish tests early and are a quick reader the ACT may be your preferred test.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of these standardized tests, it is also important to remember this: your test scores do not define your intelligence.  Not everyone’s strength is test taking and that is perfectly fine.