Should I take the ACT or the SAT?
Most colleges and universities here in San Diego and across the U.S. accept both the ACT and SAT tests as criteria for admission. But there are subtle differences between the two, especially if you’re considering a career in math and science fields.
Part of our ACT and SAT test prep is advising you about which test to take, based on your academic goals and what is required by the schools you’re applying to (or might apply to). Our ACT and SAT tutors have experience with hundreds of students from different backgrounds who have pursued varying career paths, so our instructors can answer any questions you have. We also have college counselors who can manage the entire application and admission process for you.
|More time per question||X|
|No Math Without Calculator||X|
|More geometry and trigonometry||X|
|Includes reference table of geometry formulas||X|
|Greater emphasis on Math*||X|
|Math multiple-choice only||X|
|Evidence-supported reading questions||X|
|Essay content more personal opinion||X|
The ACT Test
The ACT is comprised of four sections, each scored on a scale of 1-36:
The ACT provides two combined scores: ELA (English, Reading, and Writing) and STEM (average of Math and Science).
(75 questions, 45 min.)
Read five passages and make corrections to:
- Content ideas and concepts
(40 questions, 35 min.)
There are four sections of reading passages with corresponding questions about:
- Main Ideas
(60 questions, 60 min.)
Math topics include:
- Elementary algebra
- Intermediate algebra
- Plane geometry
- Coordinate geometry
- Elementary trigonometry
- Complex word problems
*Calculators are permitted but not required for this section. Calculators that perform certain algebraic functions are not allowed.
(40 questions, 35 min.)
The ACT Science Test is a reasoning and knowledge-based test. Students must read seven passages and answer questions about:
- Data representation
- Research summary
- Conflicting viewpoints
The ACT Science Test is not just a measure of what scientific facts and formulas you have studied in high school. The test addresses how you evaluate scientific material and understand what is presented to you, and our ACT tutoring drills down on recognizing and resolving complex problems.
The SAT Test
The basic SAT is divided into four sections covering two subjects, English and mathematics:
Each subject section (English and Math) is scored between 200 and 800 in increments of 10. Students receive a total score between 400 and 1600 for the exam as a whole. If you’re a little weaker in one subject, SAT test prep can help you balance your score.
The SAT is divided into four* sections covering two subjects, English and mathematics:
- Writing and Language
- Math (No Calculator)
- Math (Calculator Allowed)
- *Essay (optional)
The SAT also has optional subject tests for students to be ultra-competitive at colleges and universities that specialize in those areas:
Reading and Writing
(52 questions, 65 min.)
Students must read five passages, which may include charts and graphs, and answer multiple-choice questions on the following topics:
- U.S. or world literature
- A document related to the founding of the United States
- Social sciences like economics, psychology, and sociology
Writing and Language
(44 questions, 35 min.)
Like the Reading Test, students read passages and examine visuals like charts, graphs, and tables to test critical thinking about the following:
- Word choice
- The effectiveness of an argument
Writing and Language also tests grammar, such as:
- Clear and direct phrasing
- Verb tense
- Subject-verb agreement
- Combining Sentences
Students answer multiple-choice questions about corrections and improvements to the reading material.
Math Test (No Calculator)
(20 questions, 25 min.)
Fifteen questions are multiple-choice. Five are “grid-in" questions — the student answers with specific number that is then filled into a grid of integers, decimal points, and fraction bars.
Math Test (Calculator Allowed)
(38 questions, 55 min.)
Thirty questions are multiple-choice and eight are grid-in. Scientific and most graphing calculators are allowed, but smartphones, tablets, laptops, and calculators with QWERTY keyboards are not allowed. Devices capable of Internet access are not allowed.
The Math Test with Calculator includes algebra, geometry, and other topics in advanced math, including:
- Linear functions
- Linear equations
- Systems of linear equations
- Problem-solving skills
- Non-linear expressions
- Word problems