SAT vs. ACT
Which is better?
It depends on what you mean by better.
Which test do colleges prefer?
Nearly all colleges accept either and refuse to express a preference.
Which test is taken more often?
While the ACT is taken by more students nationwide, the SAT remains the test of choice for most students in the Northwest.
How are the tests different?
Since the SAT was redesigned in 2016, the differences between the two tests are less pronounced.
The document below, created by the test-prep company Applerouth, gives a good overall and section-by-section comparison. However, such summaries can help students know what to expect but usually cannot tell them which test will work better for them.
Which test will be better for me?
There are all sorts of questionnaires online, but it is difficult to predict, which is why I recommend taking both tests in the winter or early spring of junior year. Students can take both tests, see which they prefer or which score is higher percentile-wise, and then re-take one test if needed.
The single most important factor for which test is better for which students...
In my experience, the single most important factor is reading and processing speed. In general, students who are fast readers and quick processors may find that their percentile on the ACT is higher than on the SAT. Students who are not fast readers/ quick processors may run out of time on the ACT.
SAT / ACT Concordance Tables -June 2018
Use to see how a score on one test concords with a score on the other test. Not sure how to use the table? Look for the full Concordance Guide.
Guide to SAT / ACT Concordance
Guides you in your use of the concordance tables.
ACT vs. SAT Test Comparison
An excellent diagram showing the main structural differences between the tests. Note the time per question section at the bottom. Produced by Applerouth Tutoring.
Compass Guide to College Admissions Testing
Use the Compass Guide to look up: score ranges of many colleges; comparisons of SAT & ACT content; lists of test optional schools; SAT Subject Test policies; Score Choice & Superscore policies; procedure for Testing Accommodations. The guide covers a wide array of testing-related topics in a highly readable format.
Quick Comparison Tool
Compass Prep's online tool and advice may be useful as you are considering the tests.