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6 Reasons You Might Prefer the ACT

6 Reasons You Might Prefer the ACT


Take the ACT if you…

  1. Struggle with vocabulary

Although it no longer has sentence completion questions, the SAT still tests more challenging vocabulary on both the reading and writing sections.  It also has harder passages on the reading section and more vocab questions overall.

The ACT is the better test if you want to avoid higher-level words like “satiated” and “apprehensive” and older passages with challenging language.


  1. Can’t always explain how you know an answer is correct

One of the big changes to the SAT in 2016 was the addition of evidence questions on the reading section.  These questions ask you to point to the part of the passage that supports your answer to another question – #4 (below) is an example: 

SAT evidence question

Evidence questions aren’t as novel as they might seem at first, since, in theory, you should always be able to point to the support for your answer in the passage.  But if this is a skill you really struggle with, consider taking the ACT instead.


  1. Are intimidated by doing math without a calculator

The SAT has a no-calculator section, so if the idea of doing math without a calculator has you completely freaked out, you may want to stick to the ACT.

However, the no-calculator section really doesn’t require any complicated calculations.  In fact, all of the math questions on both tests can be done without a calculator, though some are rather challenging.

The question is really whether you feel comfortable doing some basic calculations by hand.  If not, the SAT will be a challenge for you.


  1. Prefer that different topics be tested in different sections

One of the goals of the SAT redesign in 2016 was to integrate important skills across all three sections, so there’s more overlap betw2een the different sections than on the ACT.

One key example of this policy is the presence of quantitative questions in the reading and writing sections of the SAT.  If you’d prefer to avoid this kind of concept mixing, stick with the ACT.


  1. Have a solid grasp of experimental design

If you like science, and especially if you have a good understanding of how experiments are built and know the difference between independent and dependent variables, consider taking the ACT.

The ACT asks a lot of questions about experimental design while the SAT science questions are solely focused on reading charts and graphs.  A strong grasp of these concepts will give you a considerable leg up on the ACT.


  1. Like to give your opinion

The ACT essay is all about arguing for your own point (unlike the SAT essay, which is about analyzing someone else’s argument).

If you enjoy stating your opinion and marshaling examples to back it up, then you will probably prefer the ACT essay.  Remember, however, that you may not need to take the essay at all and that, even if you do, it doesn’t affect your overall score.