The ACT vs SAT tests?

I plan on taking both the ACT and the SAT this year. I'll be taking the PSAT in October, the ACT in February (most likely) and the SAT in either April or May. My main question is what are the big differences in the ACT and SAT tests? (i.e. what subjects do both of them focus on? Which is harder?)

Also, what should I do to prepare? When I register for the PSATs, I'm going to get a study booklet, and I figure I would just use that as a guide. I also plan on taking SAT prep courses at school before the SAT test in the spring. Should I do anything else to prepare? And what can I do for the ACT?

Also, how are they scored? I'm very confused by the grading system of the SAT and have no idea how the ACTs are graded.

I'm a high school junior that's taking AP and honors classes, so I'm not particularly worried about the actual tests, my main concern is that I really want to do well so I don't feel the need to retake either next fall.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks. =)

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The ACT has four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science, and an optional writing section.

    The SAT has three subjects in 10 sections: 3 Reading, 3 math, 2 writing, an essay (which counts for 30% of your writing score), and one experimental section (math or reading).

    The SAT English is more focused on grammar, while the ACT English is more concerned with punctuation (an emphasis that I disagree with). The SAT math only goes up to Algebra II, but it's more critical thinking. The ACT math goes up to Precalc/Trig, but the questions are comparatively straight-forward. The SAT reading is more analytical, while the ACT reading is more "it's directly stated in the passage... but you've gotta scrutinize every detail to find it!" The SAT is definitely more of a reasoning test.

    SAT prep courses: Don't take group courses... I did for the PSAT when I was a freshman, it it was a class full of stupid juniors; I took one for the ACT as a sophomore, and it was a class full of even more stupid seniors. The only thing those classes were good for was boosting my underclassman pride. Individual lessons are better. They cost more, but they're more effective.

    The SAT does have a penalty for wrong answers (-1/4 pt) except for the math grid ins (-0 points for a wrong answer). The ACT has no penalties, but they do have harder time limits, so if you're running out of time on the ACT, start bubbling in one letter for the rest of the questions... no penalty!

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