Can I study for the SAT and ACT the same way? Or do I need to study for them differently?


Alyssa Elizabeth, I am a current high school senior who took both the SAT and ACT

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Personally, I would look at sample tests (or at least sample questions) of both (normally you can find these online) and see what's best for you. I actually tend to do better when I don't do any intense studying, but you may be different. I took the SAT twice and didn't get the scores I really wanted, but took the ACT once and got way above what I wanted, without studying. It really depends on what you're better at. If you're better at math and science, and prefer more straightforward questions, I would take the ACT. But if English and Writing are your forte, the SAT might be better for you. If you plan on taking the redesigned SAT, Khan Academy is great for that (and free). You can study for the current SAT and the current ACT the same way, just review science and math for the ACT. Honestly though, take a look and see what test suits you more, so you don't waste your time taking a test that you don't think you'll do well on. I learned that the hard way.

Karen Berlin Ishii, One-to-One Test Prep for the SAT and ACT - in NYC and via Skype

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The new SAT (as of March 2016) is very different from the previous version, and while the College Board has attempted to make the test similar to the ever more popular ACT (which has been gaining market share over the SAT), it is still a very different test from the ACT, as well.

Both tests have sections that are relatively comparable: English on the ACT is similar to Writing and Language on the SAT, and both tests have a Reading section. There are also Math and Essay portions on both tests. However, the ACT has a dedicated Science test that is very different from anything on the SAT, while the SAT has woven science skills (reading and interpreting graphs, charts, experimental data) into every section of the new test – even the grammar portion!

The best way to answer your question so that you really understand the differences between the two tests and can best decide which is a better fit, is to go to each website – and – and download a full practice test. Take each one timed, preferably in one sitting, and then compare your results. Which one do you feel you can make the most progress on? You will be looking at several months of study to optimize your score and you want a test on which you can continue to improve over the long term.

University Tutor, World's largest global marketplace for independent tutors.

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One common misconception about the ACT and the redesigned SAT is that these standardized exams test you in the same way that your high school coursework does. While both assessments draw content from your classes, they ask questions in specific ways to test very specific skills. Unfortunately, each exam has its own unique method for doing so. Studying for the ACT will not necessarily prepare you for the SAT (or vice versa), so you may see your strongest scores if you prepare for them separately. There are a number of ways to do this. You can work with tutors who are specialists in the ACT and redesigned SAT, you can purchase a prep book for each test, etc. The important thing is to allow yourself enough time to learn the quirks and tendencies of each exam.

Amir Mousavi, Tutor, Dog Lover, Yogi

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Are you talking about the old SAT (last exam date is 1/23/16) or the new-redesigned SAT (which will debut in March 2016)? The old SAT and the new ACT are fairly different exams and I wouldn't start studying until you figure out which exam is best for you. Here's an article that discusses how to choose between the old SAT and the ACT ( I would avoid taking the new SAT this spring if you can, given that it's a brand new test and there isn't nearly as much study/prep material. Check out this article for more details on why to avoid the new SAT this spring ( Hope that helps!

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