Breaking it Down: SAT vs. ACT


Written by Dominique Cruz and Hope Davison

The SAT was revamped in 2016 to include all new scoring, content, and formatting. The new style of test is aimed to prioritize the math and English problems that students will encounter from college onward, and focuses more on reasoning.

If math and science is your strong suit, then the ACT may be a better fit. The ACT enhances scoring for career planning, such as STEM careers, where as the SAT is more a measure of your intellectual potential. Since these tests act as an important part in the college application process, many students go the extra mile in preparation for these exams.

As a way to prepare for the tests, some schools in Loudoun County offer SAT preparation courses as an elective for all grade levels. Within the course, students complete full practice tests, practice test taking strategies, and work through problems as a class. Former SAT Prep course teacher, Lea Longerbeam says, “One hundred percent of my students in SAT Prep last year improved their scores from their PSAT scores or from previous SAT scores. Students improved by 50 to 200 points in one semester.”

For students who do not have room to fit the class into their schedule, Khan Academy, an online learning site, offers free online courses on the College Board website. Khan Academy’s test prep ranges from full length practice tests to individual problems broken down with detailed explanations. This site allows students to save their results in order to track their progress. Khan Academy recently joined forces with The College Board in order to provide free preparation classes. This merger was inspired by the criticism College Board faced after critics complained that affluent students had an advantage when taking the test.

A final way to get test prep is to pay to work with a tutor. Tutoring is an option for those who prefer one on one learning. Tutoring sessions are helpful because it is catered to your specific test taking needs.

Junior Brooke Diederich, shares her experiences with her ACT tutor saying, “Personal tutoring makes it easier for direct feedback and a personalized study plan tailored to what I need to work on.”