ACT vs. SAT: Which Test to Take?


Mikey VanSuch, Assistant Editor

When considering college, students commonly bring up the ACT and SAT. Most students have many questions about these two tests. What are they? What’s the difference between the two? Which one, if not both, should a student take? Most importantly, are they even important for college? It takes students a year or two to understand what the ACT and SAT actually are, as they seem extremely overwhelming. “Coming into high school, I heard about the ACT on the announcements every day,” states Lukas Mosora, a senior at HHS, “I didn’t find out what it really was until the end of my freshman year.”  

Although the ACT and SAT may seem scary, they aren’t as bad as one thinks. Here’s everything upperclassmen need to know about them:

The ACT and SAT tests are crucial for college entrance and acceptance. Almost every college in the United States requires a student take one of them. Both tests generally cover the same topics. One of the most important aspects of these tests is that they’re used for college admission. Colleges may require a certain minimum score in order for one to be accepted into their school–in other words, these tests act as gatekeepers. Max Korenyi-Both, a student at Hubbard High School, says, “My family didn’t have enough money to pay for my brother’s college tuition, but because of his high score on the ACT, he got a lot of scholarship money and graduated college with very little debt.”

The ACT score ranges on a scale from 1-36, with the average score being a 21. The SAT is on a 1600 point scale, with the average score being 1080.  The four main subjects on the ACT are: English, math, reading, and science. For the SAT, the main subject are reading, writing, language and math.. In the math section, the ACT focuses mainly on trigonometry and geometry, and allows a student the use of  a calculator for the entire section. The SAT has a broader range of questions, but part of the math section doesn’t allow use of a calculator. In the reading/English sections, the SAT gives the student more information within each question, relating to the passage more. With the ACT, a student is forced to search carefully throughout the passage for the answers. Regionally in the US, students who live in the midwest prefer the ACT much more than the SAT, while the east and west coasts students prefer the SAT over the ACT. In Ohio, the ACT is by far the more popular test. College admissions counselors do not recommend one test over the other, giving students the choice on which to take; however, most schools accept the ACT. Sometimes private colleges prefer the SAT.

The ACT and SAT are two of the most important tests of a student’s educational career. They can determine if one gets accepted into the college he or she wants, and if one is eligible to receive scholarships based on the test score. While both tests are very similar, they each have slight differences. Grace Papini, a teacher at Campbell Memorial Middle School, and mother of two Hubbard students, states, “Students don’t realize how important these tests are for their future. I see kids coming up into high school, completely unaware of what these tests are, having to eventually take this test that can possibly determine the rest of their lives.”

While all this information may seem overwhelming, it’s not something to stress about. If a student does some cold online practice to prepare for the test, there’s nothing to worry about. Prep courses offered at different locations are a plus as well.  Remember, preparation, not knowledge, and good test strategies are the key to these standardized tests. Hopefully after reading this article, a student will better understand the differences between the ACT and SAT. So, next time you’re about to take one of these two major tests, just consider, which test might be right for you?

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