For Juniors and Seniors, college is fast approaching, and a major part of the college application is the SAT and ACT scores. One of the main reasons why students stress over these standardized tests is due to the fact that these results can play an essential role in deciding what’s in store for the future.

Students perform differently on these two tests, and have a preference to which they like to take. “I am choosing to take the ACT over the SAT because it is more suitable for me,” said Leah Doyle’19, a junior of Immaculate Heart Academy. “I took a test with a tutor and it determined that I would do better on the ACT than the SAT.” But what is it that makes these two tests different?

The SAT has undergone many changes throughout the years, including its name. At first, it was named the Scholastic Aptitude Test, but later renamed in 1993 simply to the SAT Reasoning Test.

The SAT is comprised of three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and a Math section split into two categories, one with a calculator, and the other without. Students have to complete the individual sections in a certain amount of time.

The total amount of points that can be accumulated has also changed throughout the years, beginning with 1600, and then being raised to 2400 in 2005 when the essay portion of the SAT was added. However, the College Board has recently reverted back to the original total of 1600 points. Students throughout are averaging a score of 1000, with the top 25 percent of students receiving a 1200 or more, and the bottom 25 percent students receiving a score of 840 or lower. No points are deducted for incorrect answers; they are only added for each correct answer.

The questions in the SAT can be challenging, and require sufficient critical thinking skills. For example, for the reading section, even though all the answers are in the test book, they will not simply just “pop out” at you. There tend to be trap answers embedded in questions to confuse you from choosing the correct answer. This is why most students prefer the ACT to the SAT – the ACT is more straightforward.


The SAT and ACT are exams that high school students can take for the college admissions process. Photo courtesy of Magoosh.

The ACT stands for American College Testing. The ACT was founded by a professor teaching at the University of Iowa, Everett Franklin Lindquist, in 1959. He believed that the college entrance test should test what students have already learned, not what ability the students have to learn. Therefore, many students find the ACT easier than the SAT.

The ACT has the same sections as the SAT, reading, writing, and math (both non calculator and with), and an additional section: science. The science is very similar to the reading section, as all the answers are in the test. It comprises mostly of interpreting scientific data and evidence, as opposed to purely analyzing reading passages. The scoring for the ACT is also different, as it scores on a scale of 1-36, 36 being the highest. The average score for the ACT is a 20.8. However, the major difference between the SAT and the ACT is the time crunch. While easier to understand, the ACT gives more questions in a smaller amount of time than the SAT.

The best way to prep for these two exams are taking challenging and rigorous courses in high school. Doing this will help further develop essential critical thinking skills. Additionally, reading during your leisure time helps to build vocabulary and also enhances your reading comprehension skills. For those who can afford it, students have found it helpful to have a tutor, or take an additional course directed towards these exams. Some have even found that they were able to increase their scores by doing this. Another advantage is that these tests are not a one time deal. Students can take them as many times as they want to, or until the score goal is achieved.

The SAT and ACT may seem scary at first. I mean, they are the tests that parents and teachers talk about from an early age in our school careers, and they come at a very challenging time in our lives. While getting a good score on these tests are essential for those who have dreams to go to a good college and getting a good education, a bad score will not ruin what is in store for you. Just remember, these tests don’t determine your future – only you can determine your future.

By: Katalina deLeon’19, Staff Writer

Categories: Opinions