Should I take the ACT or SAT Part III

Today we’ll continue our discussion of the commonly asked question, “Should I take the ACT or the SAT?” We’ve already covered the differences between SAT Math and ACT Math, as well as the differences between SAT Reading Comprehension and ACT Reading. Today we’ll take a look at the differences between SAT Writing and ACT English.

SAT Writing:

The SAT Writing section should be called SAT Grammar and Writing. Just like SAT Math and SAT Reading Comprehension, you’ll have three sections in which to showcase your language prowess. You’ll have to write a 25 minute essay for the first section. The essay will ask you to take a stance on a broad question, and defend that stance with evidence from your reading and study. It’s important to know who your audience is, as well as the criteria used to grade the essay. Your Higher Learning tutor will be happy to walk you through the specifics of this essay. The remaining two sections are multiple choice grammar questions. The first section will be 25 minutes for 35 questions. Within this first section, the test makers employ three different formats. Each format lends itself to different types of grammar questions. It’s important to be aware of the kinds of grammatical errors that each section tests. For instance, misplaced modifiers rarely show up in the Error Identification section. Don’t know what a misplaced modifier is? Don’t worry! We do, and when you’re finished with us, will you too. The last section is a short, 10 minute section of 14 questions. Thankfully, this section sticks with one format, Sentence Correction. Again, it’s important to know the grammatical errors that are tested the most often in this section.

ACT English:

Just as ACT Math is simpler than SAT Math, and ACT Reading is simpler than SAT Reading Comprehension, ACT English Test is simpler than the SAT Grammar. ACT English is a single multiple choice section of 45 minutes, as well as an essay. There are some subtle differences between the SAT essay and ACT essay, but it’s essentially the same game: know your audience, use good examples, and have a clear argument. Neither the SAT nor the ACT are testing students on grammar or spelling in these essays. The multiple choice section of ACT English is simpler than the multiple choice sections on the SAT Writing test. The ACT test makers employ only one format, which is a hybrid of the SAT’s Sentence Correction and Error Identification. The most important aspect is understanding the breadth of grammatical errors you’ll be tested on.

So, which one should I take?

Once again, there are advantages to both the SAT Writing section and the ACT English section. The SAT gives students more room for error. If a student gets one or two questions wrong, they can still get a nearly perfect score. The ACT is brutal in terms of scoring. For top scoring students, each mistake is a point off their scaled score. However, the ACT English section is a bit more intuitive. The questions are easier, and most of the correct answers just sound good. On the SAT, many of the correct answers sound funny to high school students. The good news is that most students don’t struggle with time on either of these sections. Of course, either test is quite manageable with good preparation.

The best way to prepare for the SAT or ACT is to study with a Higher Learning Test Prep tutor. Our tutors are the best in the business, and our program consists entirely of real SAT and ACT questions. We’re certain that we can get you the score you need to get in to the school of your dreams.

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Paul Donaldson
Director at Higher Learning Test Prep

Should I take the ACT or SAT Part II

Welcome to part II of our discussion of the differences between the SAT and ACT. Students always ask, “Should I take the ACT or the SAT?” The truth is, both tests have their merits, and both tests present certain challenges. Today we’re going to talk about the differences between the SAT reading comprehension section, and the ACT reading section.

SAT Reading Comprehension:

The SAT Reading Comprehension test is split into three twenty five minute sections. Each section begins with 5-8 sentence completion questions that test vocabulary and ability to use contextual clues. There’s some great strategies that can help you improve your vocabulary as well as your approach to these multiple choice questions. However, studying for these questions can be tedious for students that lack the vocabulary needed to succeed on these questions.

The rest of the questions in these reading comprehension sections of the SAT are passage-based reading questions. You’ll be asked to answer questions on a selection from a novel, an essay, and in one case two related essays. Between the sentence completion and the longer passages, you’ll be asked four questions on shorter passages of one paragraph each.

ACT Reading Comprehension:

The ACT Reading test is one test of 35 minutes. The test is comprised of four subject-specific reading passages. The passages are always presented in the same order: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. Higher Learning tutors have a specific technique for each passage. Time management is a critical component of the ACT Reading test. Four passages and forty questions in thirty five minutes is extreme. You’ll need to move quickly to succeed on this section.

So… should I take the SAT or ACT?

It’s hard to say whether you should take the SAT or ACT without taking either test at least once. For some students, the sentence completion and vocabulary aspect of the SAT is incredibly difficult. For some students, this is the easiest part of the test. For some students, the time allotted- or lack thereof- on the ACT reading section is incredibly problematic. For some students, it’s a breeze. However, we can generalize a little bit: If you have trouble with tricky answers, choose the ACT over the SAT. If you have trouble with time management, choose the SAT over the ACT. If you have trouble with both, get in touch with the Higher Learning Team. Our ACT and SAT tutors are the best in the world. You can be sure that with our help you’ll get the best score possible.

Paul Donaldson
Director at Higher Learning Test Prep

Should I take the ACT or SAT?

We’re constantly asked, “Should I take the SAT or ACT?” The truth is, each test has it’s own advantages, and each test offers certain challenges. Here’s a run down of the similarities of, and differences between, ACT Math and SAT Math.

SAT Math vs. ACT Math

SAT Math tests students on algebra I, basic algebra II, geometry, exponents, ratios, percentages, and some basic logic. ACT Math tests students on all of the above, but also includes trigonometry questions. The content that’s tested on the SAT is easier than the content on the ACT. However, SAT questions are more convoluted than ACT questions. A typical SAT question might ask, “Bill has 5 dollars more than Bob, but 4 dollars less than Jim. If Bill equals x, how many dollars to Bob and Jim have together in terms of x?” The math here is basic algebra, but the wording is bound to trip up students that are moving too quickly. As students write equations, it’s easy to associate “more” with addition and “less” with subtraction. However, in this question the opposite is true. If Bill is x, then Bob is x-5 and Jim is x+4.

There’s a difference in philosophy here. The SAT test makers believe the fairest way to test students is to keep the content at a basic level, and to make the questions tricky. By doing so, they’re attempting to provide a format in which smart students with less than stellar educational opportunities can succeed. That is, you still have a shot at an 800 even if your school hasn’t afforded you the opportunity to take advanced classes.

The ACT test makers prefer to keep things simple. On most questions, you’ll be given a clear question to answer- just like normal math questions in school. The ACT believes in rewarding students for their hard work in school.

In terms of strategies, the SAT requires more tricks and strategies in order to ace the sections. The ACT requires a larger skill set. Both tests will provide “bait” multiple choice answers that tempt students that misunderstand the questions. The SAT splits their math test into three sections. Two sections of 25 minutes and one section of 20 minutes. The ACT has one big 60 minute math section.

Some students excel at one test, but not the other. It’s really a matter of your test taking style. The best way to figure out which math test is best for you is to take a full length ACT and a full length SAT, and compare the tests with your Higher Learning Tutor. And of course, the best way to ace either test, or both tests, is to set up your free consultation with a world class Higher Learning tutor!

Paul Donaldson
Director at Higher Learning Test Prep