Do Colleges Prefer ACT or SAT? Which is More Popular? | Expert View

Which amongst this two do colleges prefer SAT or ACT? Do you opt for ACT or SAT? You surely want to increase your chances of getting accepted, so here’s what you need to know about the standardized tests and which ones you should take.

Which Do Colleges Prefer ACT or SAT?

The quick response is no. In 2023, all universities that take test scores into consideration for admissions will accept both the ACT and SAT and won’t make any distinctions based on the test that candidates take.

A college often receives more of one test than the other, which is the main reason you might assume it prefers it. Geography is typically to blame for this. 49% of college students who participated in the 2018 American Freshman Survey commuted less than 100 miles to their place of study.

This implies that a college will mostly obtain test results based on how well-liked the ACT or SAT is in the area.

For instance, students at the University of Nebraska typically submit their ACT scores because the test is required and widely used in Nebraska. The University of Nebraska, however, will not give SAT submissions priority over ACT submissions for admission.

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Which one Sould You Choose Next?

Which standardized test ought you to take if universities don’t favor one over the other?

You decide what happens! Despite their similarities, the SAT and ACT differ greatly. Before selecting the appropriate test for you, you should think about your strengths.

In contrast to the SAT, the ACT includes a science part. A calculator is not permitted on any of the SAT’s math questions, however you are permitted to use one on every ACT math question.

The ACT has more geometry problems than the SAT, but it also has a shorter time allotment for each question.

You’ll want to consider a number of additional differences before making a choice.

The test you decide to take largely depends on your particular preferences and your strengths. Before deciding, you might wish to take a practice exam for each to evaluate which suits your skill set better.

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Should You Take the SAT and ACT Together?

Some pupils question if they ought to take both the ACT and the SAT. Although it does depend on the student, this is typically not advised.

It can be challenging to study for just one of the standardized tests; it can be incredibly challenging and time-consuming to try to balance the study time for both. Simply put, many high school students don’t have enough time for each.

Play to your strengths when it comes to the ACT and SAT because universities don’t have a preference. Choosing your stronger test and concentrating all of your study efforts on it can be in your best advantage.

If you do decide to take both, make sure to adequately study for each and space out your exam dates to avoid feeling overburdened.

Knowing that universities don’t show a preference for the SAT or the ACT can be beneficial for students! Instead, concentrate on the exam that is simpler for you so that you can strive for the best grade. Try taking sample tests to determine which is better for you if you’re unsure.


The majority of four-year schools and institutions require applicants to take the SAT or ACT and obtain a minimum score as part of the application process. Each institution has its own admissions procedure and assigns varying weights to results from standardized tests.

Standardized test results typically reflect a student’s readiness for college, assist in class placement, and can influence merit-based scholarship awards.

How Do You Compare Between Act or Sat?

Do colleges prefer act or sat as there are many parallels between the SAT and ACT. Both exams are frequently accepted by colleges and universities as a component of their admissions procedures and to determine scholarship awards for new students.

Reading, writing, and math are among the subjects that are evaluated similarly on the SAT and ACT. The reading, writing, and language portions of both assessments are all passage-based.

These tests assess students’ knowledge in crucial areas that decide whether they are college-ready.

Students are not penalized for giving wrong or blank answers on either exam. Both give credit for accurate responses.

What Makes Them Distinct From Each Other?

Although the SAT and ACT are quite comparable, there are a few significant differences that should be noted. Here are some significant variations between the two tests:

Ranges and scales for scoring. ACT composite scores range from 1 to 36, while SAT scores range from 400 to 1600.

Parts and test structure. The SAT comprises sections on reading, writing, and language as well as math with and without a calculator. The ACT comprises sections on writing (optional essay), arithmetic, reading, science, and English.

Rules for calculators. There is a part of the SAT where calculators are not permitted. All math problems on the ACT are eligible for a calculator.

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length and number of questions on the test. The SAT lasts for three hours. Without the essay part, the ACT lasts two hours and 55 minutes; with it, it lasts three hours and 35 minutes.

Section on science. The SAT doesn’t have a separate science part like the ACT does.

Math classes. Both exams cover geometry, trigonometry, algebra I and II, and arithmetic, but the SAT additionally includes data analysis, whilst the ACT just covers probability and statistics.

What Exactly is SAT?

The College Board administers the SAT, a three-hour, standardized entrance exam. Universities and colleges frequently use this exam as a component of their admissions procedures.

The SAT includes the following topics:

Writing, reading, and language
Calculator-based math
(Calculator-free) Math

The portions of each subject, as well as the ideas and topics they address, are briefly summarized below. The SAT website of the College Board has the most recent details on the material covered in each test area.

Reading Assessment

The SAT’s reading section consists of five passages, each of which has two texts and 52 multiple-choice questions. Literature, social sciences, natural sciences, and historical texts are all represented in the passages. This segment of the exam lasts 65 minutes to complete.

The Language and Writing Assessment

Four passages on various subjects pertaining to humanities, social studies, history, sciences, and occupations are included in the writing and language portion of the test.

The excerpts comprise explanatory, informational, argumentative, and narrative literature.

11 multiple-choice questions, divided into two primary categories, follow each passage. Enhancing the clarity and expression of ideas, as well as identifying and fixing sentence-level mistakes in usage, syntax, punctuation, and word choice. This segment of the exam lasts 35 minutes to complete.

The Math Exam

Algebra, problem-solving, data analysis, and advanced math are the main topics of the math exam, which calls for test-takers to handle complicated equations.

Additionally, this section makes use of trigonometry and geometry. There are two parts to the math exam: one with calculators permitted and one without.

SAT Framework

A math test, a reading test, and a writing and language test make up the three components of the SAT. The exam is mostly multiple choice, however certain math questions can require test takers to write out their answers.

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The time given for each section is broken down below:

52 questions and 65 minutes for the reading test.

35 minutes for 44 questions on the writing and language test

Math test: 58 questions in 80 minutes.
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The math section is divided into two distinct subsections: math test with calculator and math test without calculator.

You must put your calculator aside for the “no calculator” portion. The type of calculators that test-takers may use are limited by the SAT.

The Important of SAT?

According to the college preparation resource College Handbook, the SAT is a “college entrance exam that measures a student’s skills and determines how prepared they are for college, based on what they have learned in high school.”

With 55% of students taking the SAT as of 2019, the SAT is the more well-liked college entrance exam when compared to the ACT. Do colleges prefer act or sat is the right question to ask now?

Colleges accept either exam, and most do not favor one over the other, therefore it doesn’t matter which test you choose to take because all American universities accept both.

Pros and Cons of Act vs Sat

The length of both tests is nearly the same, however the SAT is divided into fewer, longer portions while the ACT is divided into more, shorter sections.

The ACT is a better option if you have trouble keeping concentrated throughout lengthy tasks, but the SAT is a better fit if you become easily distracted by frequent changes.

Pros and Cons of SAT

When selecting whether or not to take the SAT, there are both benefits and drawbacks to think about:

Benefits of SAT

  • Accepted by all colleges and universities in the United States. (Some colleges may need this.)
  • Possibly used to decide who qualifies for a certain scholarship.
  • Higher acceptance rates historically – may increase your chances.
  • may advantage pupils who are better at math.
  • an exam that is learnable; you can prepare for it and get better results.

SAT Drawbacks

  • The SAT is not the only indicator of a student’s preparedness for or success in college.
  • The results of the SAT test can easily be given too much weight.
  • The calculation of section scores varies. (The final SAT score for math is 50% of the overall score.) (The final SAT score for math is 50% of the overall score.)
  • Strong authors might not think this is the greatest test to take.

How Important Is the ACT?

Similar to the SAT, the ACT is a college entrance exam created to “measure a high school student’s readiness for college, and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants,” according to the Princeton Review.

It is a multiple-choice exam that is completed with pencil and paper over the period of three hours (or more if the optional writing examination is included).

Cons and Pros of ACT

The ACT has both benefits and drawbacks as a standardized test for college admissions.

The ACT’s Benefits

  • These exam scores are accepted by all universities and institutions in the United States.
  • Compared to SAT test questions, ACT questions are seen as being shorter and clearer.
  • The ACT test’s sections are equally weighted.
  • No deduction for guessing; only right responses count toward scoring.
  • Which grades you send to colleges is entirely up to you.
  • might advantage kids with better writing abilities. Strong writers may benefit from the optional essay component.

ACT Drawbacks

  • Not the only determinant of success or preparedness for college.
  • For pupils with better arithmetic ability, it might not be the ideal test option.
  • Is shorter than the SAT and has more questions to answer.
  • Includes a component for the science exam, which may call for more research and preparation.

Do all Colleges Accept Act

Which do colleges prefer act or sat? The idea that elite institutions favor the SAT over the ACT is a prevalent one. or that colleges in your state favor the ACT.

In truth, both the ACT and SAT are accepted by all schools and universities that need standardized testing.

What is The Purpose of The Sat and Act

The ACT and SAT which do colleges prefer act or sat? Seing that the tests generally aim to assess college preparation and forecast future academic progress.

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Frequently Asked Questions on If Colleges Prefer ACT or SAT?

ACT or SAT is preferred by Harvard?

Despite what you may have heard, Ivy League colleges accept both the SAT and the ACT. You don’t need to be concerned that your application will suffer whether you submit the results of either test, or the results of both.

Does MIT favor the ACT or SAT?

Others perform better on the ACT, while some individuals perform better on the SAT. Neither test is preferred by MIT; both sets of results are accepted.

What is the most common test for college admission?

Top 7 College Tests and Entrance Exams
American College Test (ACT)
Academic Assessment Test (SAT)
SAT Subject Tests (formerly known as SAT II)
Classic Learning Test (CLT)
Advanced Placement Test (AP Test)
English as a Foreign Language Test, or TOEFL
General Education Development, or GED

SAT or ACT requirements at Stanford?

Requirements for the SAT and ACT
Stanford requires the SAT or ACT for admission, just like its Ivy League peers and the majority of other universities. They don’t have a preference, so pick the test that fits you best, study hard for it, and prepare to take it several times.


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