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SAT vs ACT Choice. Help?

studysmart266studysmart266 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
Hey, so I'm trying to decide between the ACT and the SAT.

First here's some background: I've been studying for the SAT over the summer primarily so I can bring up my PSAT score somewhat to have a shot at national merit. Now aside from general material prep, I've taken two SAT official practice tests from the blue book and scored 730s (so about a 1460 composite) on the two sections both times. Between the first and the second time I did two targeted prep books, one for the writing section and one for the math section. While I felt more prepared the second time through the test, I fall into the SAT logic traps quite often. I was pretty disappointed with the little-improvement so I thought about the ACT. When I did research the general consensus was that the ACT didn't have those traps, so today I took a practice test and scored a 33 (33 on the English, 31 on the math, 36 on reading, 30 on science). I feel pretty good about my chances of bringing up my Science and Math scores because the ACT had coordinate geometry questions I missed due to self-teaching geometry to skip the course using a program that didn't require coordinate geometry, so if I learned that I think I could improve? For the science I'd never taken the section before or anything quite like it so I also think I could improve a lot with practice? Not sure how easy improvement is though?

Anyways, I ultimately want to either get my SAT score up to a 780 M/750 CRW or get my ACT up to 35's in both sections. Which do you think would be easier? I have about 6 months and am willing to put in consistent hours? How should I prep for the test I decide on?

Replies to: SAT vs ACT Choice. Help?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,031 Senior Member
    If you will be in 11th grade this year, why not take both the SAT and ACT this year? Then you can use whichever is higher, or have a chance in 12th grade to try again whichever is higher with additional preparation.

    According to https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/higher-ed-brief-sat-concordance.pdf :
    33 ACT -> 1500 SAT

    Note that if you to make National Merit, you need to take the SAT to "confirm" your PSAT score.
  • studysmart266studysmart266 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    edited August 9
    oh huh I didn't know that about National Merit, but yeah I am going to be in 11th grade. Maybe I will take both regardless then because I'm going through my ACT rn and I think with better knowledge of timing I could pace myself to make fewer of some of these errors too, and if I'm better at ACT I think I'll take it. Not sure if I'll be good enough at the PSAT or not, but who knows. Also thanks for the advice!
  • emmaprattemmapratt Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    It seems as if you're strong suits are in English portions of either test. If you only want to retake one, I would recommend taking the SAT. The SAT would only require you to study more for the math, while the ACT you would need to study both for math and for science. However, if you are entering your junior year, there's no reason you can't take both again :)
  • studysmart266studysmart266 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I'm actually usually much stronger at math than english surprisingly! I think my science struggles were just unfamiliarity with the test tbh, and as far as math I tend towards silly mistakes on both tests so I'm going to try to work on that haha. At least on the ACT, I feel pretty good with my english/reading scores though so that's something. I'll probably end up focusing prep on both until after the PSAT and then deciding I suppose. Thanks so much for your help!!
  • allly079allly079 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    I think ACT gonna be better for you. Try to learn geometry for a month and then track your improvement, Don't you consider taking both - SAT and ACT (just in case?) But I think it's easier to get ACT to 35.
  • babiestbabiest Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I'd reccomend taking both--as others have said-- but you sound more confident on the ACT. I'd also reccomend not putting so much pressure on yourself to be a NMS
  • TestingearlyTestingearly Registered User Posts: 320 Member
    Sounds to me like the ACT will be better for you. The science is just practice. My D's tutor says that it takes 10 times of doing science practice sections for students to hit their stride in science. My advice is to do double or triple the amount of science sections than for the other three sections. Good luck!
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 16,438 Senior Member
    edited August 11
    It is hard to predict which one you would do better particularly you have only done the ACT practice once. There are large variation from practice test to practice test especially from different publisher. As of now, you practice scores from both test are not too far off. Just keep on practicing using different sources, if available. Both my Ds took both after thorough preparations. D1 was slightly better with ACT in practice and nut significantly better in ACT in real tests. D2 was about the same in practice and did better in ACT initially and then got a better SAT score in retake.
  • Sam-I-AmSam-I-Am Registered User Posts: 432 Member
    The ACT seemed to favor my two kids. Plus if you take the ACT then on SAT days you can instead take SAT II subject tests in order to show proficiency in a specific area if you wish to do so (or need to do so for some schools or programs). There is a time crunch on the ACT greater that the SAT, so if you master pacing yourself then you can get a great ACT score. Hope this helps, though studying and practicing in general will help whatever you choose.
  • snowfairy137snowfairy137 Registered User Posts: 1,796 Senior Member
    I was in a very similar situation as you... studied for the SAT/PSAT and did ok, well enough for NM but not great. I tried the ACT and got a 34 first try (practice test) and was able to get that up to a 36 on the real thing by studying with more practice tests. I need to take the SAT for NM still, but it's very low pressure considering my ACT score.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,410 Senior Member
    So is the consensus that the SAT is simply easier?
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 34,254 Super Moderator
    There is no consensus. Some people do better in one over the other, some do comparably. Try them both and send in the better set of scores.
  • Sam-I-AmSam-I-Am Registered User Posts: 432 Member
    I thought the general CC consensus (from earlier threads) is that the SAT is generally harder but you are given more time to finish. The ACT is generally easier, but you have to hurry because time is more of an issue than on the SAT. In the end it probably depends on personal preference.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,254 Senior Member
    @Sam-I-Am yes. I think that's the consensus. Our s19 can get all questions right on the ACT but can't for the life of him finish reading or science. He didn't try too hard. Took two practice tests and couldn't finish those sections. On both tests, he went ahead and used extra time to see if he could answer the questions correctly. Then, tried the SAT and just felt better about the timing part. He finished each section with time to spare and did pretty well. Decided he was just more comfortable with the SAT and would just work to get more problems correct. That's what he did this summer.

    Part of me wants to see if all of his prep helped for the ACT too just out of curiousity, but I don't think I can convince him to take an ACT practice test just to see!
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 1,410 Senior Member
    @Sam-I-Am and @homerdog it is really curious. My kid took a practice ACT and hated it. Said the math was easy and got all of the math correct but the reading was a disaster. Took a practice SAT and does close to even on both sections. It is so odd--everyone pushed us to the ACT saying it was more straightforward and generally easier (less tricky ) but I dont think we will bother. To OP @studysmart266. My kid is doing similar to you scored a 1480 on last practice test. Uses Khan Academy and really likes it.
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