Due to the state of Illinois switching from the ACT to the SAT for state testing, this is a question that I have been been asked quite a bit lately.  WAY back when I was in high school, the colleges and universities on the East and West coasts of the United States accepted SAT scores, and the schools in the middle of the country took the ACT.  Things have changed: all schools accept both test scores for college admittance.  Now, it really boils down to a matter of preference.  It is also a money factor involved because, in Illinois, your junior attending a public school will have one SAT test paid for by the state.

Here are some facts about each of the tests:


  • 4 sections – English, Math Reading, Science (Optional essay)
  • Issued 6 times annually (February, April, June, September, October, December)
  • Advantage: Vocabulary and content is more straightforward.
  •  Link to a FREE ACT practice test



  • 4 sections – Critical Reading, Writing, Math with calculator, Math without calculator (Optional essay)
  • Issues 7 times annually (January, March, May, June, October, November, December)
  • Advantage: More time for each problem and NO science section (although science content appears in Reading and Writing)
  • Link to a FREE SAT practice test

The easiest way for you to answer this question is to start off by taking a practice test of each, and then see which format you are more comfortable with.  It really is just a matter of preference!!  Keep in mind that your life will be easier if you only spend time (and money) preparing for one of the tests. You will most likely spend quite a bit of time preparing, so make sure to choose the test that is easier for you!

Tina Wiles has a unique background.  She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan,  but she is also a certified high school math teacher! She has been working in the testing industry for over 10 years and has found her passion. She has published an ACT Workbook that is used with all her students.  To gain more knowledge about the test and to understand what her students are going through, Tina takes the ACT herself 2-3 times a year

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