Abra Stalker

Students begin studying for the upcoming ACT tests.

Sahib Talwar, Reporter

The American College Test (ACT), run by ACT Inc, is a standardized test similar to the SAT as both are used during the college admissions process. Unlike the SAT, which tests on reading, writing and language, and math, the ACT has an additional section: science. Both exams contain an optional essay. Furthermore, the SAT provides more time on its questions as they are more lengthy, require more reading,and problem solving; whereas the ACT has more questions than the SAT because they  do not take much time to complete. The ACT is graded on a scale from one to 36 for each section, while the SAT scores each section on a scale from 400 to 1600 points. At SHS, 11th and 12th grade students are given the opportunity to take both of these exams. 


IB senior Manasi Prasad says: After taking both exams, I personally preferred the ACT over the SAT because although I was tested on a larger number of questions, I found that the topics covered in the ACT were easier to study, answer, and comprehend.“ 


Prasad goes on to explain the difference between the two exams and that there is no perfect test for everyone— the SAT is not suitable for everyone, nor is the ACT. 


She says:  “I believe that each student has a preference about which test they take depending on if they rely on strategy or intelligence. For preparation, I recommend that they take a practice test of each to determine which test they found better suited for them, then scheduling a real test as a benchmark to see where they are.”


There are merits to both tests that students must acknowledge and adapt to, eventually deciding which one they feel is more suited to them. Yet, the most important thing students must ensure is their measure of ability, and the only way to do that is through practice.  


Prasad expresses some good tips to study for either test: “As far as practice, there are hundreds of practice tests found online for both ACT and SAT, and individual question banks are found on the ACT website, Varsity Tutors, and Khan Academy. I strongly recommend students to simulate a mock testing environment to mimic the real test: a quiet room, one break in between the four sections at the halfway point, and waking up at 7 a.m. to start the test at 8 a.m.” 


English II honors teacher, Yolanda Williams, tutors students who are taking the ACT and SAT. She says: “The ACT along with the SAT are high-stake tests that use the concorded score to determine a student’s ability to be a successful college student. The SAT is composed of reading and math whereas the ACT has science, reading, and math on it. I prepare students for it by showing them different strategies, I make sure they understand the timing affiliated with each section. We also go over the grammar so they understand the language part of it. Right now we are tutoring 90 minute sessions here at SHS twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Health Academy 215.”


Williams describes her own experience when she was taking the SAT exam stating: “It was terrible I wasn’t prepared!” 

She agrees that preparation is important to get an excellent  score on the exams in order to attend one’s desired college. She recommends that students come to all the sessions she provides for a proper foundation. 


PSI High junior, Adriel Pereira explains how he feels about the ACT and SAT and what he is doing to prepare. He explains: “I am using Khan Academy’s official SAT practice, and apps like SAT Prep by Varsity Tutors. Some techniques that I have found helpful are to focus on timing rather than content since the short amount of time per question is the biggest hurdle for me personally. I think both exams are annoying, but I see their use for colleges. [Thus,] I don’t mind putting effort towards these tests.”


All in all, students who are studying for either test should make sure that they choose the test that their strengths are most suited to, and study. Check out this link to help decide which test is best matched for you! Afterwards, begin studying! Preparation is what matters most. Best of luck to all ‘Noles taking the ACT this week!