Wanting to study in the US, and many other countries including India, Canada and Australia, often means you’ll need to take the SAT or ACT tests for acceptance onto courses. When you have found a course of interest, check its information to see what the entry requirements are including if they require SAT or ACT test results.
What are the SAT and ACT tests?
In short, they measure your academic ability and give institutions an idea of what your potential for success is. They assess your comprehension, writing and language skills and computational abilities.
What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?
Most institutions will accept either the SAT or ACT test, so consider taking the test which matches your strengths, and therefore, where you are likely to score most highly. Although they are similar, there are some differences which may help you decide on which to do.
Firstly, although they are both similar in length, the ACT fits more questions into this time, which can make candidates feel rushed.
Whilst the topics vary slightly, most importantly is the weighting that is given to the maths element in both tests. The ACT uses your maths score as 25% of your final result, whereas the maths element in the SAT makes up 50% of your final score. Your confidence in your ability to succeed in maths will determine whether you take the ACT or SAT.
If you have a good aptitude for science, then taking the ACT would be more beneficial for you as it includes a Science Reasoning section which makes up 25% of your final score, ideal for those candidates who have an aptitude for science.
Both assessments have English and language skills making up 50% of the final grade, but some speakers of English as a second language have commented that ACTs use of colloquialisms and lesser known phrases has made this assessment more difficult for them.
If English is your second language
You will be required to show you are capable of studying in English by submitting your results for either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Pearson Test of English (PTE). Some institutions may accept other tests, some of which combine a traditional language test with a video interview to show your competence at English.
Finding a test centre
Once you have chosen your preferred test, register on the CollegeBoard website for the SAT and the ACT website (check the registration dates too), and book a test at a test centre local to you.
Practising for the SATs and ACTs
There are lots of opportunities for you to practice your SAT and ACT skills. Check out The College Board SAT Practice Tests page or the ACT Test Prep web page.
Good luck with your tests!