Differences between ACT and SAT established
Both the SAT and ACT are accepted at most schools, but each test is geared toward different types of students, as the tests assess much of the same material, but does so in different ways.
The most prominent difference between the two tests is the number of sections. The ACT contains up to five sections: English, math, reading, science and an optional writing section; the SAT, on the other hand, consists of three categories, reading, math and writing, split up into 10, and 25 to 30 minute sections.
The ACT does not penalize for wrong answers as the SAT does, but the SAT policy of penalizing for incorrect answers will change in the new, March 2016 version of the test, according to ACTStudent.org.
The ACT contains more advanced material in math and English, but phrases questions in a more straightforward manner. The SAT, on the other hand, asks easier questions in a more complex manner.
Both tests also contain a writing section: an optional 30 minute section on the ACT and a required 25 minute section on the SAT.
According to the Princeton Review’s website, “ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you’re being asked before you can start solving the problem.”
The SAT assesses more vocabulary than does the ACT. Like the ACT, the SAT tests sentence structure and grammar, but only the SAT includes “‘vocabulary-specific problems’ – each exam contains 19 questions within its critical reading sections that have to do almost purely with your knowledge of vocabulary,” the Green Test Prep’s website said..
ACTStudent.org states math on the ACT is a slightly more complex than on the SAT, testing some Algebra II along with Algebra I and geometry.
According to guidance dept. member Cheryl Goff, 70 percent of WHS students take the ACT.
Regardless of the test taken, most colleges do not prefer one test to the other; therefore, Goff recommends all students to take both tests to understand with which test the student is most compatible.