Battle of the exams

The deadline to sign up for an online practice version of the SAT is Friday at 5 p.m. The $10 fee for the test can be paid via

Jay Schlaegel

The deadline to sign up for an online practice version of the SAT is Friday at 5 p.m. The $10 fee for the test can be paid via

In order to take the next step in furthering their education, many students take the SAT or ACT, as required by their desired college. Understanding the difference between the two can sometimes be difficult.

The first test designed to determine a student’s admittance into college is the SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, devised in 1926. The purpose of the exam is to test the capability of a student to complete a test in the time limit of three hours, excluding the time given for writing the essay, rather than testing the mastery of subjects. This means the SAT is more context based.

“There’s less questions and more time on the SAT compared to the ACT,” SAT Prep teacher Kelli Duckworth said. “The SAT doesn’t test what you can remember as much as it tests how well you can pull information.”

Decades later, the ACT, or American College Testing Program, was founded from the idea that such tests should be an indicator of academic preparation. In comparison, students are tested during a span of about three hours, a better choice for those who don’t enjoy sitting in a classroom. The ACT features a greater amount of questions with a shorter amount of time, but questions are easier to decipher.

“I decided to only take the ACT because I find it much easier to focus when we’re given straightforward questions,” junior Sarah Shannon said. “I don’t like having to train my brain to search for answers.”

Although both exams test reading, writing, and math, the ACT adds an additional subject many students aren’t as familiar with.

“The main difference between the two is that the ACT is all calculator based and incorporates science,” junior Mallory Reed said. “The good thing is that it doesn’t test how much you know about chemistry or physics, it tests how well you can read charts and graphs.

Whether the SAT or ACT seems like the better test, studying for the two isn’t much different.
“There’s not a difference between studying for the two since they generally test the same subjects,” Duckworth said. “The best thing to do is to take practice test so you’re familiar with the types of questions you’ll see.”

The following infographic compares the former version of the SAT to the recently enacted newer version of the test.