Depending on the college or university, the admissions board there will want you to take either the SAT or ACT standardized exam. There is no way around it as a high school senior. They use your score on these exams to determine if you are college material for their school.
Most colleges will accept you taking the ACT or SAT as long as you achieve a desirable score. In fact, if you score high enough, you may just be able to land yourself a full scholarship at their school. However, before you run off and take either assessment without thinking ahead, there are little differences here and there between the two tests. One of the ways they differ is the math sections on each.
The SAT math section is composed of 58 questions that must be completed within 80 minutes. The no-calculator part consists of 20 questions that must be finished in 25 minutes. The calculator allowed part gives you 38 questions and 55 minutes to complete them.
The SAT math section is essentially broken down into four categories.
- There are 19 algebra questions so be ready to read to solve equations.
- Another category focuses on problem-solving and data analysis with 17 questions. You will need to be able to figure out percentages, graphs, statistics, and probability.
- Word problems are prevalent with SAT math. If your reading comprehension is strong and you enjoy story problems, this could be something that entices you to choose the SAT over the ACT.
- The advanced math category has 16 questions so be prepared to solve quadratic and nonlinear equations.
- On top of these three categories, there are six additional questions on topics such as geometry and trigonometry. Less than 10 percent of the problems in SAT math are related to geometry.
The ACT math section consists of 60 questions to be answered in 60 minutes. This means two more questions than the SAT math and 20 fewer minutes to answer them. But there are no story problems and the questions are straight forward. If you know how to figure out the equation associated with the problem, it shouldn’t take you long to answer.
However, one area where the ACT and SAT math sections differ is the amount of geometry involved in the questions. As stated above, the SAT consists of less than 10 percent of the questions relating to geometry. The ACT math section consists of about 35 to 40 percent of the questions focusing on geometry. If you struggle or excel in this branch of mathematics, this could influence which exam you take.
A calculator can be used for the entire test and all the questions are multiple-choice. Interestingly enough, if you are playing percentages, the ACT’s multiple-choice questions have five answers to choose from. The SAT’s multiple-choice questions only have four answers to choose from.
The ACT math is broken down into two basic categories.
- Preparing for the math category makes up anywhere from 57 to 60 percent of the math section. Questions in this category consist of algebra, functions, geometry, number and quantity, and statistics.
- The other 40 to 43 percent of the ACT math section is based on integrating essential skills. You may have questions on the test about percentages, proportions, expressions, means and medians, and area and volume.
Now that you know the difference between the two standardized exams, the best opportunity you will get to see how well you will do is by taking a practice test for each. Then perhaps based on your two scores, you will know which test you should focus on more.
Luckily for you, iAchieve offers free practice tests for both assessments. Plus, iAchieve can provide you test prep tutoring for either test to assure that you can achieve the highest score possible. Who knows? You may just score high enough where you can receive a full or partial scholarship!