SAT vs ACT

Maya Lyou and Cierra Pringle

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Figuring out whether to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Test) can be a difficult decision to make during your junior and senior years of high school. 

The SAT consists of Mathematics, Critical Thinking, and Writing. The Mathematics section is broken down into three different sections: a 25-minute multiple-choice section with 20 questions, a 25-minute section with 8 multiple choice and 10 write-down questions, and a 20-minute multiple-choice section with 16 questions. The Critical Thinking section is made up of two 25-minute sections and a 20-minute section. The Writing section is optional to test-takers and is made up of an essay and some multiple-choice questions. The essay portion is just a response to a prompt given to the student. The multiple-choice portion has questions about sentence structure and grammar (Course Notes).

The ACT consists of 4 sections: English, Math, Reading, Science (and Writing offered as a 5th option). All questions on the ACT are multiple-choice (excluding the Writing section). The English section of the ACT lasts 45 minutes with 75 questions. The Math section includes 60 questions in 60 minutes. The Reading section is 35 minutes long with 40 questions. The Science section, like the Reading section, has 40 questions in 35 minutes. If the Writing section is chosen, 40 minutes is offered to write an essay based on a given essay prompt (The Princeton Review).

The scoring system of each test also differs. The total SAT score ranges from 400-1600, while the ACT ranges from 1-36. The average SAT score for seniors at DVC last year was 1060 and the average ACT score was 20.9. 

The last chance for seniors to take the SAT this semester is December 7th and the last chance to take the ACT is December 14th. Most colleges ‘Superscore’ the SAT and ACT, meaning they take the highest score you received on whichever test chosen. Seniors are required to include at least one of these test scores in their college applications. College applications are due between January 1st and March 1st, but early applications are due late November. If seniors want to submit early applications, they will not have the chance to take the SAT or ACT this fall before the early application is due. 

Kassidy Sandoval, a senior, has taken the SAT twice and plans on taking it a third time later this semester. She shares advice about which test to take and how to plan based on your interests.

“Look at whatever colleges you’re looking into; really research the requirements, see what they need, and some colleges don’t even need SAT with essay, so you might save yourself some money there,” Sandoval said. “Some other advice could be [to] know what your strengths are and what subjects when choosing a test and just study a lot beforehand.”

As for juniors, they will be taking the PSAT (Practice SAT) this Fall semester and taking the SAT for free at DVC during the Spring semester. Juniors will be able to use their PSAT scores to focus on different skills to master for the actual SAT. 

Juniors were surveyed about which test they plan on taking this upcoming Spring.

Juniors were surveyed about which test they plan on taking this upcoming Spring.

Students are able to take the test however many times they feel necessary, but a parent/guardian is required to pay a fee each time the test is taken. The SAT is $47.50 ($64.50 with the Essay portion). The ACT is $50.50 ($67 with the Writing portion) (Vox).

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