Standardized testing can be among the most stressful parts of the college application process. When it comes to taking ACT and SAT, many students find themselves unsure of which to pursue. To help decide, we recommend you take a mock SAT and ACT and compare your performance on each. However, if you find that you need more help making a decision, here are several factors to keep in mind:

An achievement test measuring the knowledge you have learned in school.• Comprised of five components: English, math, reading, science and writing. If science is one of your strengths, you may find the ACT a more attractive option.• The math component includes more advanced math concepts, such as trigonometry.• The ACT also has an optional writing component. Although optional, the writing component is often requested by many colleges. Be sure to check requirements with your prospective colleges.• If you prefer straightforward questions that are stated in a simpler format, the ACT may be a good option for you. The ACT is more of a curriculum-based test and one that you would be more likely to encounter in a class.• The ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers you get with no penalty for guessing.

[Read more: Upcoming ACT exam dates]

The SAT is a reasoning and aptitude test that tests students on their knowledge and their ability to apply it. It has three components: math, critical reading, and writing.• The questions are structured in a way that may require you to read them more than once in order to figure out what is being asked so that you can start solving the problem.• The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary and writing. If your strengths lie in language and you have a strong understanding of root words, definitions, suffixes and prefixes and grammar, the SAT may be a good option for you.• Does not test on more advanced math concepts like trigonometry. However, the math questions do require more analysis and reasoning.• The SAT breaks down each component into sub-sections that are alternately organized. Some students get bored or anxious tackling the same topic all at once. However, if moving back and forth between topics is confusing, irritating or causes you to lose focus, the SAT may not be the best option.

[Read more: Upcoming SAT exam dates]

Now that you have an overview of both standardized tests, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, consider your preferences and put them in perspective as you decide whether the SAT or ACT is better for you.

Remember, there is a growing number of schools that don’t require any standardized test scores.

[Read more: Test Optional Colleges 2017-2018]

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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