Standardized testing is part of high school life. Schools start teaching about standardized tests in middle school because they want to prepare students for the future. These tests are a fundamental part of our education system and a gateway for university.

If you're in high school and already planning or researching about college - and everything you need to apply - you will have to learn about standardized tests and the options available for you.

The SAT and the ACT are both tests that will be a requirement for your college application. But don't worry, you are not required to take both.

To know which test to take, students need to have an idea of which path they want to take after high school. You have to decide what you want to study (or at least have an idea), have a list of universities you would like to apply to, and know what are the requirements of admissions.

If you are confused about which test you should take, this article is for you. Continue reading to find out what are the differences and similarities between the ACT and SAT.

If you are a student who wants to learn more about the ACT you can check out our article Preparing for the ACT Science Test.

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Taking a standardized test is challenging because it has many sections like math, science, language (English), writing, and more. Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash
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Standardized Testing

Standardized tests are part of our educational system. They help us measure the level and efficiency of the system and it can help the student prep for what is ahead, after high school.

These tests are designed to be completed under a certain time frame. Some can take hours to complete and others can be just an hour and a couple of minutes long.

The questions are generally in multiple choice format, where each question has four or five options from which the students have to pick the correct answer.

Scoring a high grade depends on how much each student studies and how much they practice. If you don't feel comfortable or prepared to study by yourself, you can always look for tutoring or online courses to help guide you through the process.

These online courses or tutoring lessons can provide you with vital content, practice questions based on the test, and overall an advantage over your classmates who are studying by themselves.

Standardized tests are not optional and they will be a requirement for almost every institution you apply to. So stop trying to avoid them and start preparing for it.

Remember that there are many free resources online and on the College Board site to help you prep for the SAT. If you want to find information about practice tests check out our article Where can you find ACT Practice Material? or you can also read about Topics Covered in the ACT Science Test.

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Admissions offices of colleges don't want perfect scores, they look for the best and want to see you have the academic resources needed to succeed in college. Photo by Patricia Beatrix Villanueva on Unsplash

ACT

The ACT is an American college admissions examination that tests students on subjects they've been learning about during their years in high school. The subjects students will be tested on are English, Math, Reading, and Science.

The format of the ACT is different than the SAT. Test takers are given 2 hours 55 minutes to complete the exam and 40 additional minutes to complete the essay (which is optional).

The ACT has 215 questions in total and considering the amount of time each student has to complete the test, each question should take them no more than 49 seconds to answer.

The score range for the ACT is between 1 and 36 for each of the four tests—and your composite score is the average of those.

The registration deadline for the ACT is about 5 weeks before test day and students have to pay a late fee for registering later.

If you are considering tutoring as a study option, you can check out our article about ACT Science Test Revision With a Private Tutor.

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Students are allowed a calculator for the Math part of the test but there is no use for a calculator during the other sections. Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

SAT

The SAT, the same as the ACT, is an American college admissions examination based on everything students learn during high school. The subjects students will be tested on are Writing and Language (English), Math, and Reading. The only difference with the ACT is that the SAT doesn't have a Science section on the exam just the three previous sections.

The time structure of the SAT is different than the structure of the ACT. Test takers are given 3 hours to complete the exam and 50 additional minutes to complete the essay section (which is optional).

The SAT has 154 questions in total and given the amount of time, each question should take 1 minute and 10 seconds to answer.

The score range for the SAT is between 400 and 1600 points (total score). For the reading and writing sections, the score range is between 200 and 800. The Math section also has a score range between 200 and 800. Finally, the SAT essay has three scores ranging from 2 to 8.

The registration deadline for the SAT is about 4 weeks before test day and students have to pay a late fee for registering later.

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The total score will reflect your overall knowledge and it will find your level of reading and comprehension of literary passages or your overall how well you test. Photo by Kyle Gregory Devaras on Unsplash

Similarities between the ACT and the SAT

Now that we've shown you the differences between the ACT and SAT, these tests have many similarities in structure and content.

For starters, they are both standardized tests, which means that they both have questions in multiple-choice format and students are given a certain amount of time to complete them. These exams are both designed to test and see what each student has learned during their high school years and determine if they are ready for college-level courses.

Another similarity between the ACT and the SAT is that they offer both exams 7 times each year. This means that students have 7 opportunities during the year to take either exam.

Also, writing an essay is optional both for the ACT and the SAT. So if you were nervous about writing an essay you should know that it is not mandatory for either test.

Both organizations in charge of these exams provide students with free resources and tools to help them study and prep for the test.

Finally, for students wondering where these exams will be accepted, both the ACT and the SAT are accepted in all U.S colleges and even American institutions abroad.

So if you're not sure of which test to take, remember that both will be accepted by any institution. Feel free to reach out to the college admissions office and get more information on the subject.

Keep in mind that no test is better than the other, it only depends on your needs and goals for the future.

For more information about the ACT continue reading about How to Study and Succeed for the ACT Science Test.

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