# 2 Years Out Of College And Gre Math Is Challenging ACT Or SAT? Five Tips to Pick the Right College Entrance Exam

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## ACT Or SAT? Five Tips to Pick the Right College Entrance Exam

The SAT and ACT are respected and nationally recognized tests. Historically, there has been a geographic divide between the two; today, very few colleges require or prefer one test over the other. So which one should you take? Well, since you can’t really say that one test is easier than the other, it all depends on your skills and preferences. Basically, you should go for the one with the highest score!

1. Who says size doesn’t matter?

The ACT is a shorter test. The SAT takes 3 hours and 45 minutes, while the ACT clocks in at 2 hours and 55 minutes, making the SAT 30% longer than the ACT. Either way, you’re stuck doing a long test. If you have a ridiculously short attention span, then the ACT might be right for you, but realistically, after almost 3 hours, why sweat another 50 minutes?

2. When in doubt, just guess…right?

The SAT has a penalty for guessing – minus a quarter point for each wrong answer. Not so with the ACT. Guess away! Therefore, you should answer all questions on the ACT, but on the SAT, you should only leave the answer blank when you cannot eliminate at least one answer choice. Does this make the SAT “harder”? Not really. With the right strategies, you can even make the SAT’s guessing penalty work to your advantage.

3. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s superscore!

The SAT reports each of your three “subscores” separately: one for critical reading, writing, and math. Therefore, many colleges will combine your best three subscores from all the times you’ve taken the SAT to get a “superscore.” In the past, schools wouldn’t do this with the ACT. Recently, however, many schools have also begun doing ACT “superscores.”

4. What’s the difference anyway?

Both tests have grammar, reading comprehension, essay and math portions. The ACT has an extra “science” section, but don’t worry. I’ve used quotation marks because it’s really just another test of your reasoning skills – it doesn’t take much knowledge of chemistry, physics or biology. Generally speaking, the ACT tests skills you (should have) learned in high school, while the SAT tries to gauge your innate problem-solving skills.

For example, the ACT math section tests some topics that aren’t typically covered until precalculus. Although the SAT omits these topics, its math problems generally have more complicated configurations.

The ACT essay is optional, but some colleges require it anyway. Their essay topics are always school policy issues, while SAT essays deal with more abstract moral or philosophical issues.

In the critical reading sections, the vocabulary on the SAT is more difficult, but the ACT tests your reading and critical analysis skills. The ACT English section gives you a couple of long passages with grammar and critical reading questions mixed in; the SAT reading and grammar tests separately.

5. You can’t know if you like it until you try it!

How do I know which test is best for me? Try them! Take some free practice tests online and see which one suits your taste. Both the SAT and ACT offer questions or practice tests on their official websites.

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