Choosing between the SAT or ACT Test

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What’s the difference between SAT and ACT, and which should I take?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 11:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 12:46pm

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The Scholastic Aptitude Test, generally referred to as the SAT, was redesigned in 2016 and the test has grown to be more similar to the ACT.

The SAT is a US-based test administered worldwide and is assessed by the College Board. High-school students generally take the test during their junior and senior years. It’s specifically designed to assess levels of literacy, mathematical aptitude, and the writing skills necessary for a successful scholastic career at a college or university.

The ACT (American College Testing) readiness assessment is a similar test taken by high-school students in the US and in recent decades, has gained rising popularity among students around the world. The ACT has four sections: English, Reading, Math and Science, as well as an optional 40-minute writing test, which is required by some schools.

The SAT and the ACT are largely the same in terms of test content, except that the ACT includes a science section. The ACT Science Reasoning Test assesses your scientific skills more than your knowledge. Students normally would have learned these science skills from taking science classes in high school. It also places a greater emphasis on problem-solving skills. Another main difference is that in the SAT, there is one maths section that does not allow the use of a calculator. There are five reading passages in the SAT test, and four in the ACT. The SAT is scored from 400 to 1600, while the ACT is scored from one to 36.

The easiest way to decide which test to take is to do a full-length practice test for both the SAT and the ACT. The SAT generally allows slightly more time to ponder questions, but because some students do better on tests when under pressure, the less available time of the ACT can prove to be a positive aspect. Universities don’t prefer one test over the other, so students can choose the test they feel comfortable with.

What are the SAT Subject Tests?

SAT Subject Tests, also known as SAT II, focus on what a student has achieved academically across a range of subjects. SAT Subject Tests are designed to measure knowledge in specific areas. While there are 20 SAT Subject Tests that candidates can choose from, students will probably only need to submit scores from two to three Subject Tests, depending on each school’s admission requirements.

Should I take SAT Subject Tests?

By and large, those who wish to apply to a highly competitive university will find those institutions require at least three SAT Subject Test scores. The Maths Level 2 test is one of the most popular subjects and students hoping to pursue studies in maths or science-related fields will be expected to submit a good score with their application. Those applying to engineering or medical school may likely be required to submit scores in chemistry, physics or biology. Once you have decided to take an SAT Subject Test, it’s better to take the test once or twice so that you can submit the higher score.

How can I prepare for my SAT and ACT exams? 

NTK Learning Center offers bespoke test preparation in small groups, and one-on-one lessons, which are customised to address a student’s individual needs and concerns. NTK’s SAT and ACT intensive camps are designed to provide rigorous training to help students reach their target in a short period of time. They combine intensive practice with in-depth teaching and review sessions, allowing students to sharpen their test-taking skills and exam strategies in a structured manner. In 2017, NTK students consistently achieved 800/800 on their subject tests and 1550/1600 or higher on the SAT, and scored an average of 34/36 on the ACT. Many students have successfully gained admission to Ivy League schools.

NTK has a proven record of helping over 20,000 students achieve academic success. Each of our 85 full-time elite teachers possesses a diverse teaching background with global experience, and each one has been through a strict in-house selection and assessment process. Comprising qualified IB examiners, NTK  is also experienced in preparing students for a diverse number of internationally recognised examinations, including AP, SSAT , TOEFLI/GCSEGCE A-LevelsCommon Entrance TestIELTS, GMAT, ACT, and other US tests. In addition, courses of study span eight major academic departments: business, Chinese, economics, English, humanities, mathematics, modern languages, and science.