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SAT vs. ACT: Which One should You Take?

Author: Boise Bible College
Published on: January 10, 2020

As a college admissions team, we get questions surrounding the SAT vs ACT regularly. In many instances, students have not taken either the SAT or ACT yet. While some colleges, Boise Bible College included, offer alternate ways of acceptance without a SAT or ACT, it’s best to take one of the two tests.

These tests, catering primarily to high school juniors and seniors, measure student’s proficiency in various critical skill areas—such as problem solving and reading comprehension—that are necessary for college success.

Should you take either the SAT or ACT?

The billion-dollar question.

All US colleges and universities accept scores from either the SAT or ACT, so there’s no advantage taking one test over another. However, depending on the content, you may be inclined towards one test or the other.

In addition, some states require either the SAT or ACT.

These states require the ACT:
  • Alabama
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
These states require the SAT:
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

Key Differences between the SAT or ACT:

  • The SAT gives you more time per question to complete.
  • The ACT has a science section, whereas the SAT has science questions scattered throughout.
  • The SAT has math questions that you cannot use a calculator, but the ACT allows a calculator on all questions.
  • The ACT has more of a focus on geometry, but both have a big emphasis on algebra.
  • Evidence-support questions are a big part of the SAT reading but entirely absent on ACT reading.
  • SAT Reading all questions follow a chronological order.
  • Difficulty levels are in chronological order on the SAT vs ACT.
  • Registration for SAT is typically four weeks in advance vs. five to six weeks for ACT.

For details regarding the SAT, see www.collegeboard.com.

For details regarding the ACT, see www.act.org.

So, which test should you take?

The choice is yours depending on your preference of content.

Our encouragement is to take practice tests to understand the format of each test. However, you should take either the SAT or ACT test as early as you can for your college application.

If you are a senior wanting to go to college in the fall, register now for either test. If you register late, there will be a financial penalty. There are only a few more possible dates this spring to take the tests. Register today!