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Best Online SAT and ACT Prep Courses
As parents, we want our children to be successful. And, if our kids plan on going to college, the SAT or ACT is probably the most important test they will ever take. How well they score on either test (or both) has a big impact on which colleges or universities they will get admitted into. We strongly encourage all parents to attend a free webinar to learn how to help their children score in the top 1% of test takers.
As parents wanting the best for our children, it is important for us to know the differences between the SAT and ACT tests. How are they different? Which one should our child choose to take? Which one is better? Keep reading for a closer look.
The Difference Between the SAT and ACT Tests
The SAT and ACT are standardized tests used by US colleges and universities as part of the admissions process. While they serve a similar purpose, there are several distinct differences between the two:
- Test Structure
The SAT consists of two main sections: evidence-based reading and writing (EBRW) and math. It also has an optional Essay section. The ACT, on the other hand, includes four main sections, English, math, reading, and science. It also has an optional writing section.
- Test Score
The SAT has a score range of 400 to 1600. Separate scores are recorded for the EBRW and math sections. The ACT has a composite score ranging from 1 to 36. The final score is calculated as an average of the scores from the four main sections.
The SAT places more emphasis on problem-solving and data analysis. The ACT covers a broader spectrum of math topics, including advanced trigonometry and logarithms. The ACT allows the use of calculators during the math portion, while the SAT has both a calculator-allowed and a calculator-prohibited section for the math test.
The ACT has a dedicated science section that tests scientific reasoning and interpretation of data. The SAT does not have a specific science section. However, it may include some science-related questions within the Reading and Writing sections.
- Reading and Vocabulary
The SAT places greater emphasis than the ACT on vocabulary and requires students to analyze complex text passages. The ACT instead focuses more on straightforward reading comprehension and places less emphasis on vocabulary.
Both tests offer an optional essay section. The SAT essay asks students to analyze a provided passage, while the ACT essay requires students to evaluate and analyze a specific viewpoint on a complex issue.
- Regional Differences
The SAT is more commonly used on the East and West coasts of the United States. The ACT is more popular in the Midwest and South. However, most colleges accept both tests and one test does not provide any advantage over the other.
The Best Way for Students to Prepare for the SAT and ACT Tests
What is the best way for your child to prepare for these tests? Here is what we recommend:
- Know the Small Details
Understand the differences between the SAT and ACT test and decide which one is best suited to you. Once you have made that decision, it is very important to get familiar with the structure, format, and test instructions so that you do not have to worry about them on the day of the test.
- Enroll in a Test Prep Course
We highly recommend enrolling in an in-person or online test prep course that gives you access to a live instructor, tutoring, and a strong curriculum. Even though a good test prep company can be expensive, we feel that it is money well spent because nothing is more important than your kids getting admitted into a great college and receiving a stellar education. Our most highly recommend courses are provided by PrepExpert which guarantees a 200-point improvement on the SAT and 4-point improvement on the ACT. They offer various formats that fit all needs and budgets.
- Practice as Much as Possible
In addition to enrolling in a test prep course, it is essential to take as many practice tests as much as possible to become familiar and comfortable with the format. Check your answers and grade yourself. Be sure to pay special attention to your weak areas and work on those. Take as many tests as you can.
There are a number of great books you can read that provide test advice and also include practice tests for you to take. Many of these tests are from actual administered tests from prior years.
Engage in activities that help to improve your memory. Play memory-stimulating games, practice focusing and concentrating, get plenty of sleep every day, and memorize formulas and other information over time rather than try to cram just before your test.
To conclude, if students follow the steps listed above, they will almost certainly do much better in the SAT or ACT test than if they just go in blindly. The main keys are this: Practice. Start early. Be consistent.