The ACT is designed to measure your general educational development and capacity to complete college-level coursework. It has four multiple-choice sections covering four skill areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The optional Writing Test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. The ACT is designed to measure “college readiness.”
Though we do offer diagnostic practice tests for $20, you must currently be in sessions with a tutor to take tests in our office.
The ACT is more widely used by schools in the Midwestern and Southern US, while the SAT is more popular with East and West coast schools. But recently the ACT has been gaining more use on the East coast. In fact, more students nationwide take the ACT than the SAT.
There is a lot of overlap between the ACT and SAT, but there are also some crucial differences. The most notable difference is the time pressure. The ACT is designed to be more a of high time pressure test. Most questions are easier than a similar SAT question, but because you have to rush to finish the section, you are more likely to make a careless error.
We often say that SAT measures power, while ACT measures speed. If you’re good at working quickly, the ACT might be a better test for you. It’s harder to get extended time for the ACT, but if you can, it’s a huge advantage.
Another big difference is that the ACT has a science section, while the SAT does not. On the SAT, math accounts for half your score, while on the ACT math is a quarter and science another quarter. So if you’re better at reading and analyzing scientific text than at math, then the ACT might be a better test for you.
Many students wonder which test is the best to take. We advocate basing the decision, in part, on actual scores from official practice tests, which we can provide. Call the office to set up a time to take a practice test. You can also talk with one of our coaches about your situation and how to get started with our ACT preparation program.
In the end, many people decide to take both tests, which gives them the luxury of picking whichever one turned out better to send to schools.
You can download our MJ Test Prep brochure here.