If you are preparing to take your college admission test in the United States, you will have to choose between two types of standardized exams: the ACT (American College Testing) and the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). Fortunately for you, AHEAD Tutorial & Review Center, the best tutorial and review center in the country, offers review programs for both. You can sign up for a class-type review, or go for one-on-one tutorial sessions for a more customized program.

But before anything else, do you know the difference between the ACT and the SAT?

What is the ACT?

The ACT is a curriculum-based test that measures how much you’ve learned in school. It tests a student’s knowledge in four key subjects: Math, English, Reading, and Science, and has an optional writing exam. You may choose not to do the Writing Test, but keep in mind that most schools will require you to take it. On the ACT, the questions are pretty straightforward and easy to understand, and scoring is based solely on the number of correct answers (i.e. You will not be penalized for incorrect answers.).

What is the SAT?

The SAT, on the other hand, focuses on critical thinking and reasoning. It tests a student in three key areas: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. There may be less key areas in the SAT, but the questions are trickier and phrased circuitously, making them harder to understand. Plus, guesswork is discouraged when taking the SAT since you will be penalized for incorrect answers.

Which test should you take?

The type of test you should take used to be a factor of geography. If you want to study in the Midwest, you take the ACT. If you want to go to the coast or highly selective universities, you take the SAT.

These days, it’s a different story. Since entry to premium universities has gotten more competitive, many students are keen on taking the standardized test that gives them a better advantage. Some students have gone on to take both tests, and submit the one with the higher score.

But if you feel that taking both the ACT and the SAT is a bit excessive and unnecessary, the best thing to do is find out where you will fare better: Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Remember that the ACT is more knowledge-based while the SAT is more logic-based.

You may also want to take into consideration that Science is part of the key areas on the ACT, but not on the SAT. If you’ve had trouble with your Science subjects in school, perhaps it would be wiser to go with SAT. Here’s another key difference. On the ACT, questions are grouped according to subjects. On the SAT, you’ll jump from one key area to another.

If you’re still unsure of which standardized test is best for you, why not enroll in AHEAD’s ACT and SAT review classes, and take the simulated tests for both? Familiarizing yourself with the ACT and SAT, and taking practice tests for both as well, may be beneficial in helping you figure out which test you should take.

Good luck!

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