Should You Take the New SAT or the ACT?

classroom sat act testWe receive inquiries all the time from students and parents alike – should I take the new SAT or the ACT? Today, we will delve into this question a bit to help you make the choice between the SAT and the ACT.

Ultimately, the choice between the SAT and the ACT is a personal choice. In our tutoring center, for students who are having difficulty making that choice for themselves, we offer a free session and consultation. In that session, we gather information from each student and aid the student in making the decision between the two tests.

There are people who will stand firmly in each camp. Some say they prefer the SAT because it is more representative of the mastery of skills needed to succeed in college. Others staunchly advocate the ACT, citing the fact that the new SAT is too new to be able to truly evaluate. The reality is that the new SAT and the ACT tests have gotten much more similar. You can take a look at the structures of each test and compare them here.

There are many components that go into this decision-making process: personal preferences, college choices, areas of comfort. Let’s take a look at some of these considerations.

  • College admissions: Most schools accept either test. But do your research. Look into those schools that you might be interested in attending, and see what their admissions requirements are. This will also help identify those schools that require an essay.
  • Ability to work in a time crunch: If you looked at our comparison between the new SAT and the ACT, you may have noticed that the ACT has significantly more questions than the new SAT (215 vs. 154), in about the same time period (2 hr 55 min vs. 3 hr). In fact the average time per question on the ACT is 49 seconds, while the average time per question on the new SAT is 1 minute 10 seconds. So if you are the kind of person who buckles under time pressure, the new SAT might be a better fit for you. Also, if you are the kind of person who would panic if you did not get to every question, the ACT might not be a good choice for you.
  • Vocabulary: While it has incorporated some modifications in this area, the new SAT still has more challenging vocabulary in the test than the ACT. If you have found that you struggle with upper-level vocabulary, you may want to take the ACT.
  • Geometry: Do you struggle with Geometry?  In the old SAT, geometry was a much bigger part of the test. Now with the new SAT, there is significantly less emphasis on geometry (it is estimated that there are at most 6 or 7 questions on Geometry on the new SAT). There are many more geometry questions on the ACT (up to a max of 27 questions on coordinate and plane geometry combined). So if you like geometry and feel that is your strong suit – go with the ACT. If you hate it – stick with the new SAT.
  • Formulas: How are you with formulas? Unlike the SAT, the ACT test does not provide you with formulas to use on the test – it’s up to you to know them on your own.
  • Calculator: Does the thought of doing math without a calculator completely scare you? Then stay clear of the new SAT, which now has a section where a calculator is not allowed.  The ACT does not have such a section, you can use a calculator in the entire section.
  • Math Grid-Ins: Are you comfortable filling in answers for the math portion of the test? The new SAT has some fill-in-the-blank grid-in math problems, while all of the math questions on the ACT are multiple choice.
  • Science: If you cringe from the thought of your science class, you may not want to take the ACT. The ACT has its own Science section, the new SAT does not. You will find some science questions in each of the SAT sections, but not to the extent that you find them on the ACT test. Specifically, you will find many questions on the ACT on experimental design – dependent and independent variables, experiments, etc.
  • Retaining Details while Reading: There seems to be a notable difference between the ACT and new SAT when it comes to the reading section. On the new SAT, questions regarding the reading passages often indicate a line number to refer in the text or they go in order. On the ACT, are often random in order and do not always give line numbers. So if you are the kind of person who struggles with retaining details while reading, this is one advantage to taking the new SAT over the ACT.
  • The Essay: If you decide to take the essay portion of either the new SAT or the ACT, it’s important that you know the differences between the two. First of all, the new SAT gives you 50 minutes to write the essay, while the ACT gives you 40 minutes. On the new SAT, you will be asked to read an passage and analyze how the author builds a persuasive argument, using evidence from the text. You are no longer asked to agree or disagree with a stance or write about a personal experience. On the ACT, you have to (1) read and analyze three different perspectives on a given issue, (2) develop your own perspective, and (3) explain the relationship between your perspective and those given.

The verdict? If you have to choose one over the other, do your research and see which is best for you. It may also be helpful to take a practice test for each one and see how you score.

Insight Tutoring Center, a local and convenient tutoring and SAT/ACT prep center, offers free consultations to help determine which test might be best for you.


Getting Technical with the New SAT

scantron SAT testIt’s that time of year where high school juniors and seniors have the College Board website bookmarked, are looking up SAT test dates and test centers, and are starting to dream of that perfect score.

Today, we will answer some basic questions about the New SAT: When is it? When should I register?  When will I get my scores back? And what’s so different about the New SAT? We’re going to give you all of that information here to save you the research time on your end. Let’s break this down piece by piece…



SAT Test Dates & Registration Deadlines

So the first thing you need to know about the New SAT is when it is administered, and when you must register by to avoid paying a fine. We have all that information for you here:

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline  (online or by phone)
October 1, 2016 September 1, 2016 September 20, 2016
November 5, 2016 October 7, 2016 October 25, 2016
December 3, 2016 November 3, 2016 November 22, 2016
January 21, 2017 December 21, 2016 January 10, 2017
March 11, 2017 February 10, 2017 February 28, 2017
May 6, 2017 April 7, 2017 April 25, 2017
June 3, 2017 May 9, 2017 May 24, 2017

Can’t take the test on a Saturday due to religion? Don’t worry. There are Sunday test dates for those who cannot take the test on Saturday due to religious observances. In most cases, the Sunday test date is usually the very next day after the Saturday test dates listed above.

SAT Score Delivery Dates

So, now that you’ve taken the test, you cannot wait to find out how you scored. Here is how long you will have to wait:

Test Date Score Delivery
October 1, 2016 October 27, 2016
November 5, 2016 November 29, 2016
December 3, 2016 December 22, 2016
January 21, 2017 February 23, 2017
March 11, 2017 April 13, 2017
May 6, 2017 June 8, 2017
June 3, 2017 July 12, 2017

What’s so “new” about the New SAT?

You may have heard that there is a New SAT in town as of March 2016, and that there have been changes made. Let’s examine the key differences between the new and old SAT test.

  • The essay portion of the SAT is now optional, and reported separately.
  • The old SAT was 3 hours and 45 minutes in length. The new SAT is 3 hours long (+50 minutes if you decide to take the essay portion).
  • The test is now scored out of a total possible 1600 points (without the essay). The Math section is scored out of 800. There is an Evidence-Based Reading & Writing section that is worth 800 points.
  • There is no penalty for guessing – points are not deducted for incorrect answers.
  • While the old SAT had a strong emphasis on vocabulary, the new SAT is much more concerned with understanding vocabulary within a larger context.
  • The new SAT now has two math sections – one in which you are allowed to use a calculator, and one in which you are not allowed to use a calculator. On the old SAT, a calculator was permitted throughout the entire math section.
  • The new SAT has fewer and longer sections than the old test.

Are you preparing for the New SAT?

Insight Tutoring Center in Brooklyn offers SAT test preparation services. We have both classes and private tutoring to get you to that perfect score. Our tutors give individualized attention to students so that they can work on the areas they struggle with most. We also offer in-house diagnostic testing so that you can take a full length practice SAT under true testing conditions.