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Should I take the SAT or ACT?

QUESTION: I'm an 11th grader and have been studying for the SAT for about three months. I just found out about the ACT, which is also accepted by the colleges I’m applying to. My vocabulary is not that good, so I feel that I could probably do better in the ACT than the SAT. Which should I take? Signed, To SAT or Not to SAT

Dear To SAT or Not to SAT: Both test scores are accepted by most colleges and we have seen students perform well on both the SAT and ACT. Some of the differences between the ACT and SAT include:

  • The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary – which might be a reason for you to try the ACT.

  • The ACT tests grammar and punctuation while the SAT does not.

  • The ACT is all multiple choice while the SAT has a student generated response section.

  • Both tests are about three hours long but the ACT has more questions, which means you have less time for each.

To decide between the two, try taking them for practice. Get a sample test of each and take it under test-taking conditions. You can get sample tests by going to for the SAT and for the ACT. Don’t give yourself extra time or take a shoot some hoops. Compare your scores. More importantly, note which test you feel more comfortable with and which fits your testing “style.” The bottom line: Take whichever test you think matches your skills– it won’t matter to the colleges.


Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.

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