Should Students Take the ACT or the SAT?
This is a question that is frequently asked by high school students. Understanding the difference between the two tests can help you make an informed decision.

Which test is more popular?
For the first time, in 2010, more American high school students took the ACT over the SAT. Over the course of the next decade we predict the ACT will continue to gain in popularity among students, teachers, administrators, and universities.
Which test is the better measurement tool for college-readiness?
The ACT is considered the better measurement tool to gauge college-readiness. It is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school whereas the SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.

What are the different sections of each test?
The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test. The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.

Which test do educators feel is the best reflection of future success?
Educators at the highest levels have realized that the ACT is a better test for college success. While educators agree that reasoning and verbal abilities are important, they would also agree that the true measure of success lies in college readiness skills – skills the ACT directly measures. For this reason there are currently seven states that use the ACT as their official state exam: Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming. Not one state uses the SAT as their official state test.

Should students prepare for and take both exams, just to be safe?
Not necessarily. Every college and university accepts the ACT for admission and scholarship purposes and the SAT for admission.


Comparing the ACT and the SAT

Test Type Achievement Test Reasoning Test
Make Up English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing (optional) Critical Reading, Math, Writing (including an essay)
Score Choice Yes, however schools can request all scores Yes, however schools can request all scores
Calculator Yes, math only Yes, math only
Scoring No loss for incorrect answers No loss for incorrect answers
Vocabulary Minimal vocabulary questions (English section has a few vocabulary questions and reading section includes “words” in context) Sentence completion portion of critical reading section is vocabulary based
Features Completing reading section can be difficult questions are more straight forward. No formulas provided SAT reading passages are not in order of difficulty. Wording of the answers to the reading questions can be confusing. Does not contain a science section

Math formulas provided

Accepted where? All universities and colleges routinely accept ACT for admission All universities and colleges routinely accept SAT for admission


What do these differences mean for me?
The test taking strategies needed for each test are different. On the ACT, students have more control over how they spend their time. For example, with 60 minutes to complete the entire math section on the ACT, students must know how to allocate their time wisely. On the SAT, the math is divided into three sections which may seem more manageable; however, if students finish early, they cannot work on any other sections. Another downside of the SAT is the added stress of deciding when to guess and when to leave a problem blank. With only four answer choices on the ACT, your chances of guessing correctly are raised dramatically.

Should I take the ACT?
Majority of Ohio state colleges accept the SAT or ACT with Essay. Most other universities will accept either test, but it is wise to check with individual private colleges. If you are planning to take the SAT, we recommend trying the ACT also because approximately 90% of the preparation is the same. Whether you choose to take the SAT or ACT, the most important thing is to be prepared. No single company has a monopoly on secrets to success; it just takes a lot of practice and an experienced teacher who can explain your mistakes to you.

What is a “good” test score?
The best answer to that question is to take a look at the student’s GPA and SAT, ACT scores and decide upon a realistic goal for that student. We usually begin by looking at some of the popular Ohio universities and the average scores of last year’s freshman class.



Mean GPA

Mean ACT


SAT Math

Application Deadline

University of Akron



March 1

Bowling Green





February 1

Capital University


21 – 27

470 – 580

490 – 610

May 1

Case Western

29 – 33

620 – 710

670 – 760

Jan 15

University of Cincinnati



Mean math/reading


March 1

Denison University


27 – 31

600 – 670


Kent State


20 – 25

950 – 1160

950 – 1160

March 1

Kenyon College


28 – 32

630 – 730

600 – 690

Jan 15

Miami University

26 – 29

1170 – 1320

1170 – 1320

Feb 1

Mt. Carmel School of Nursing


20 – 24

April 1

Muskingum College


18 – 24

380 – 500


June 1

Ohio Dominican University


20 – 24



The Ohio State University

27- 31

Mean math/reading


Feb 1

Ohio University


22 – 26

490 – 610

470 – 610

Feb 1

Otterbein College


20- 26

470 – 570

490 – 585

March 1

University of Toledo


19 – 25


Wittenberg University


23 – 28

520 – 620

520 – 620


Wright State



Mean math/reading




The College of Wooster


25 – 30

560 – 650

550 – 660

Feb 15

Xavier University


23 – 27

490 – 590

510 – 610



How do I prepare for the Subject Exams?
First, you should try taking mock exams in several different subjects before selecting your final two. Next, take a few private lessons to help you to familiarize yourself with the format of the tests you are taking. For the content based tests, you should review through the key concepts. For the skills based tests you need to practice a wide variety of questions so that you know what to expect. Our teachers will identify your weak areas and create a program of study for you.





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