Which test: Digital SAT or ACT?

Common Myths About The SAT and ACT

At UES we’re often asked by students whether they should be taking the ACT or SAT, what the key differences between the tests are, and whether colleges prefer one test over the other. Here are some myth-busting facts about each test:

  • The SAT and ACT are accepted equally at all colleges, and colleges do not have a preference. Traditionally, students in the midwest took the ACT and those on the coasts took the SAT, but this trend changed over the years.
  • There is no pass/fail mark on the tests. Instead, colleges factor the score into the overall profile of a student.
  • Many colleegs are 'test-optional', but that doesn't mean a good score won't help. Providing more evidence is a good thing - as long as it doesn't interfere with other qualities a student might offer.

Which Test Should I Choose?

The SAT changed format (again!) in March 2023, to a Digital test. Students will now take the test on their own laptop in a test centre, which is normally a school. The ACT has been digital for a while, but students must go to a specialist public test centre and take it on a standard computer. Both tests are still mutiple-choice tests.

The main differences are now:

  • The SAT is adaptive by section, meaning students tend to see questions at their level.
  • The ACT has a science section, so students taking Science at A-level/IB will be more comfortable on this section than other students.
  • The ACT has a broader range of maths topics, so students not taking maths after 16 years of age might take more time to learn the new topics.
  • The SAT is shorter, and gives more time per section than the ACT. Students who struggle with time pressure might prefer the SAT.

It’s important for students to make the right decision about the test they will prepare for at the outset of the process to avoid preparing for a test that doesn’t fit their learner profile. To help students decide between the ACT and Digital SAT, we’ve developed an online diagnostic test that calculates your suitability for the ACT or Digital SAT based on a sophisticated algorithm that evaluates your speed and ability in each section. This test is completely free and includes a score breakdown and test recommendation.

SAT or ACT Extra Time
If you get extra time on your school exams, you might be entitled to extra time on the SAT or ACT. Please read our blog post carefully about this - it can get complicated!

More information about the tests can be found on the CollegeBoard and ACT websites. Please get in touch if you have any questions at all.

Most students will get some sort of help with the tests, in order to get up to speed on the timing, technique and content. We offer courses and tuition to the majority of US applicants in the UK each year.

Courses and Tuition

Please get in touch if you have any questions at all.

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