• October 5, 2021

Studying abroad, especially in the United States of America, is a dream of many students. The reason being, the USA has a long list of top ranked universities/colleges in the world and getting admissions in such highly reputed institutions can assure them a strong career. But is it so easy to get into such a high-rated top ranked university in the USA?

There is a high demand for getting admissions in prestigious US universities/college. To tackle the competition, two exams are conducted by the governing body. These exams are ACT and SAT, which can be appeared by students worldwide. The marks secured in these exams is then used to take admission in desired USA university/college.

But there is no compulsion to appear for both exams for the selection, as the score of any of the above two exams will be sufficient to get into the prospective university/college. So, in this article, we will be discussing two things, i.e., why should a student appear for SAT, and not ACT, and vice-versa.

Why SAT?

SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test conducted for the students who desire to take admission in colleges/universities in the USA and Canada. SAT is widely prevalent among students who don’t have science as a subject in their curriculum. The reason for it is that, the SAT exam does not have a separate science test to test critical thinking skills unlike the ACT exam.

In SAT, mathematics is one of the compulsory section. This section benefits the students with math as a major subject in their school. As an additional benefit, the SAT test takers are allowed to use a calculator to solve mathematical problems. This makes it easier for them to score more marks in this particular section, which makes SAT more advantageous.

The syllabus of mathematics for the SAT exam covers only five topics: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and data analysis. These topics are highly favorable for math pursuing students; making the SAT exam more accessible for the candidate to score better.

The other sections that are included in the exam pattern are reading, writing, and language. These sections are the same as ACT, but the comprehension or passage reading part includes five passages which may take more time. This is the only drawback of the SAT exam, as each passage consumes time. But, to relax the pressure on students, the time allowed for the SAT exam is 3 hours.

The SAT exam score is evaluated by adding the scores obtained in each section. This score is scored on a scale between 400-1600 as the candidates target to get the maximum they can get out of 1600. The benefit which favors the students the most during the SAT exam there is no negative marking for wrong responses and only correct answers are taken into consideration, and the scores released based on that. The best SAT score to get admission in the top university/college range from 1350 to 1500+.
The level of the SAT exam has comparatively dropped since the changes in exam pattern were made in 2016. The preparation for the SAT exam is now more straightforward, and a student can score better marks with healthy preparation.

Why ACT?

If we thoroughly observe, there are no significant changes or differences between both ACT and SAT. But, still, both the exams favor a particular group of students, which is why students prefer appearing for a single exam.
ACT or American College/universities testing is a dedicated exam conducted to enroll students in US universities/college based on their exam scores. This exam was solely conducted to test various abilities of a student, which include writing, mathematical, verbal, and scientific.

As we have mentioned above, the ACT exam involves a dedicated science section to test critical thinking skills. Also, this section checks the awareness of the student in science. The questions that are asked in this section are from the science reasoning part. This exam mainly favors for students who had science and mathematics as their core subjects in their previous course.

The mathematics section includes six topics, out of which four topics are the same as the SAT exam. The topics included for the ACT exam are arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability and statistics. Alongside, ACT appearing students are also allowed to use a calculator for all mathematics problems. So, this exam gives an advantage to those who have the upper hand in probability and statistics as well.

The English and reading section is comparatively more accessible in the ACT exam, as it has only four reading passages to answer. The time given to complete the test is capped at 2 hours and 44 minutes. But, if any student opts for essay writing, they are given extra 45 minutes to complete the essay. In the essay section of the ACT exam, the examiner checks the candidate’s skills in evaluating and analyzing complex issues.

In the ACT exam, there is no negative marking for wrong answers, and the scores are given between 1 and 36. The universities/college in the US and Canada use these scores to shortlist the candidates for admission. The best score to get admission into top universities/college ranges from 32 to 34.


Both the exams have the same purpose, and both of them are accepted by all the colleges/universities in the US and Canada. But, the preference is mainly made based on sections, subjects, and exam patterns. Each exam favors a particular section of students, but after the exam pattern of SAT in 2016, students are seen preparing for both. But still, let me remind you again, appearing in any of the above exams effectively can get you admission into top universities/colleges.