What’s the Difference Between the SAT and the ACT?

Cami Munce, Community Editor

   This year marks the first year in which all Michigan Colleges will accept the SAT instead of just the ACT for college applications. However, many students are lost when it comes to understanding the difference between the two and which would be more beneficial to take.

The ACT tests in 4 different areas: mathematics, reading, English, and science. There is also an optional essay portion that students can take (at an extra cost, of course). This test is administered 6 times throughout the year. This test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.

“I preferred to take the ACT because I feel like it was easier and tested me in more areas that I was familiar with over the SAT,” claimed Hannah Rodriguez, a Milford junior.

The ACT costs either $39.50 or, if you choose to do the writing portion, the cost is $56.50. This 2 hour and 50 minute test (or 3 ½ hours if you do the essay) is designed to test academic achievement.  

In contrast, the SAT consists of 2 portions: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, plus an optional essay. This test is scored on a 200-800 point scale per section, making the “perfect” score 1600. This tests costs $43.00 or $54.50 with the essay; which isn’t very much different from the ACT at all. The SAT is designed to test aptitude, rather than achievement.

“I liked taking the SAT better because I felt like I had more time to answer all the questions,’ said Riley Simlar, a student who has taken both tests in the past week.

In fact, the SAT gives students 3 hours and 45 minutes to take the test, which is considerably longer than the ACT.

So which is better? To that, there is no definitive answer. Students who are willing to study may find the academic achievement test design of the ACT to be favorable. Students who want more time to make their answers satisfactory may lean toward the SAT. Yet, this is not absolute. Whichever test you prefer, chances are you will be taking it more than once.  

“One of the most significant differences is the essays on both tests,” stated Ms. Weeks, a Milford Teacher who is well acquainted with the two tests, “The SAT is rhetorical analysis while the ACT is opinion. Because of this, students tend to feel as if the SAT essay is harder.”

AP Language is a class offered at Milford for juniors. This class focuses on rhetorical analysis essays and readings which can aid students greatly on the SAT.

“I think that taking AP Language helped immensely with the SAT because I was familiar with rhetorical analysis and could structure my essay much more easily having studied it,” stated Rodriguez.

Regardless of your individual strengths, it is imperative that you do research on the test you are taking and prepare for the challenge you will face. Best of luck to those who will soon face these massive tests.