SAT or ACT: Which test should you take?

By Kate Ballard-Rosa

Fall is almost here, which means SAT and ACT testing is right around the corner for thousands of students. Determining the right test to take can be a difficult process with a lot riding on it.

Although the SAT and ACT test share many of the same core concepts, it is important to know that each test has its own way of trying to determine a student's aptitude. Variations in a student's test-taking style and past coursework can cause a marked difference in scoring from one test to the next.

For instance, the ACT math section includes trigonometry, while the SAT math does not. The ACT includes an entire section on science that tests a student's ability to analyze and draw conclusions from charts and graphs, whereas the SAT has only a few questions testing this skill per test. The SAT also tests a student’s vocabulary, whereas the ACT does not. 

Keep in mind that the College Board is releasing a new SAT that will begin testing in March of 2016. If you aren’t planning on testing until then, we recommend choosing the ACT due to the uncertainty of a new test.

Typically, the best way to determine which test suits you better is to take a practice test for both and see which one you do better on. However, taking almost eight hours of practice tests to determine which one to focus on can seem like a lot of work, so we made it a little easier on you.

Take a look at the infographic below and answer the yes or no questions to determine which test suits you.


Now that you have a good idea of what test to take, it’s time to begin preparing. Use Unigo's tools to research colleges, figure out your dream school, and find out what test scores it will take to be accepted. Finally, take a practice test to determine your starting point and develop a plan to get your score where it needs to be.

About the author

Kate Ballard-Rosa

Kate Ballard-Rosa is the Managing Director of truePrep. truePrep is an online marketplace that matches students with elite SAT tutors. Tutoring takes place online, one-on-one, using an adaptive SAT curriculum.