## It’s a big decision.

##### Determine the best option for your student.

# SAT or ACT?

Determining whether to take the SAT or the ACT, plus deciding when and how many times to take it, can be a daunting process. It is helpful to know the facts about each test. So let’s break it down.

# SAT

#### The SAT is comprised of four sections in the following order:

- Reading
- Writing and Language (Grammar)
- Math with calculator
- Math without calculator

#### Scoring:

- Reading + Grammar = one score (200 – 800)
- Math with calculator + Math without calculator = one score (200 – 800)
- Perfect composite score = 1600

Formerly, an optional essay section was offered, but it has been removed.

**When was the SAT created?**

The SAT was first administered to high school students in 1926 — between the World Wars and before the Great Depression. It was adapted from an Army IQ test that was used to determine officer candidates during World War I.

# ACT

#### The ACT is comprised of four sections in the following order:

- English (Grammar)
- Math with calculator
- Reading
- Science

#### Scoring:

- English (1 – 36)
- Math (1 – 36)
- Reading (1 – 36)
- Science (1 – 36)
- Perfect composite score = 36

The overall ACT score is the average of the individual scores on each of the four sections, rounded to the nearest whole number. Thus an average of 23.5 becomes a composite 24.

There is still an option essay for the ACT. Very few colleges/universities require it. We recommend that only strong writers (and those applying to schools for which the essay is required) take this portion.

**When was the ACT created?**

## Section by Section

## Math

Both exams assess skills covered in Geometry, Algebra II, and Trigonometry. We recommend that students have completed at least Algebra II before attempting either exam.

**SAT:** 58 problems (38 with calculator | 20 without) in 80 minutes

- Lengthier word problems that lend to logical reasoning
- Greater emphasis on algebraic concepts like polynomials, systems of equations, and quadratic functions

**ACT:** 60 problems in 60 minutes

- Shorter problem descriptions and more direct solutions
- Greater emphasis on geometric theorems and concepts, as well as logarithms

## Science

**SAT: **N/A

- The SAT includes SOME science-oriented graphical analysis questions as part of the reading section, but this is limited to at most a few passages

**ACT:** 40 problems in 35 minutes

- No prior subject knowledge is required
- Students must interpret graphs, charts, and experiments across six or seven passages, then answer analytical questions based on the aforementioned

## English

The English (Reading/Grammar) sections are very similar between the exams.

**SAT:**

- 52 reading questions in 65 minutes
- 44 grammar questions in 35 minutes
- Reading passages have students find passage meanings and themes
- Reading passages stem from subjects such as history, the arts, sociology, and science
- Grammar questions are in a content-paragraph format rather than single-sentence questions

**ACT:**

- 40 reading questions in 35 minutes
- 75 grammar questions in 45 minutes
- Questions and analysis are similar to the SAT above
- Optional essay: students defend, refute, or qualify a perspective on a given issue

**Which states take which exam?**

## So which test should my student take?

- Take the ACT if your student appreciates order, structure, and identifying trends; if they work quickly; or if they prefer English to math. Register for the ACT here.
- Take the SAT if your student likes analytical thinking, logical reasoning, and adapting to variation, or if they prefer math to English. Register for the SAT here.

That said, every student is different, so the BEST way to determine which test to take is to compare your student’s results from one full-length test of each exam. By comparing those results, as well as the student’s overall comfort with each test, you and your student can make a well-informed decision. In the drop down box labeled “Concordance: Equivalent ACT and SAT scores,” you will find guidelines for direct comparison of composite scores.

*Please note that PrepSquared does NOT register its students for the SAT or the ACT. Exam registration is the responsibility of the student and their parents.*

**Concordance: Equivalent ACT and SAT scores**

Don’t know which test is more comfortable? Can’t tell which test results were better? The table below may offer some guidance:

ACT Score | SAT Score Range |

36 | 1570-1600 |

35 | 1530-1560 |

34 | 1490-1520 |

33 | 1450-1480 |

32 | 1420-1440 |

31 | 1390-1410 |

30 | 1360-1380 |

29 | 1330-1350 |

28 | 1300-1320 |

27 | 1260-1290 |

26 | 1230-1250 |

25 | 1200-1220 |

24 | 1160-1190 |

23 | 1130-1150 |

22 | 1100-1120 |

21 | 1060-1090 |

20 | 1030-1050 |

19 | 990-1020 |

18 | 960-980 |

17 | 920-950 |

16 | 880-910 |

15 | 830-870 |

14 | 780-820 |

13 | 730-770 |

12 | 690-720 |

11 | 650-680 |

10 | 620-640 |

9 | 590-610 |

SAT or ACT Decision Package – $99

Students will take full-length online SAT and ACT exams. We then review the results to help students determine the best choice for their specific strengths and challenges.

## Superscoring

Many students will take the standardized exams multiple times in pursuit of an optimal score. A great many universities will either allow multiple scores for admissions or allow for “superscoring” SAT or ACT scores.

#### What is superscoring?

Superscoring occurs when universities or colleges use just the *highest* math score and the *highest* reading score from all combined testing efforts:

#### Example:

**SAT 1st test:**Math = 650 | Reading = 510 | Combined = 1160

**SAT 2nd test:**Math = 620 | Reading = 590 | Combined = 1210

**SAT 3rd test:**Math = 680 | Reading = 550 | Combined = 1230

**Superscore used by university:**Math = 680 | Reading = 590 |

**Superscore = 1270**

## Timeline

#### In general:

- Schedule first test as early as possible during junior year or in the summer prior to junior year.
- Try to attain ideal score by end of summer prior to senior year.
- This gives the student a good measure of what universities are within reach given historical standardized test score admittance averages.
- This also leaves senior fall quarter available for completing college admissions applications.

SAT or ACT Decision Package – $99

Students will take full-length online SAT and ACT exams. We then review the results to help students determine the best choice for their specific strengths and challenges.