The short answer: For most students, it does not matter which test they take. All schools will accept either test score, and most students will score comparably on both tests. Our best advice is to pick one and prepare well for it.

The Long Answer: Colleges use standardized tests as one indicator of successful academic performance during school. They have equivalency tables that compare scores across the tests. They are more concerned about the percentile ranking than the raw score for either test. It is our experience that about 80% of students will score within a few percentile ranks on both tests. However, about 10% will do substantially better on the SAT, and 10% will do substantially better on the ACT.

The Old College Try

Unfortunately, there is no clear way to tell who will fall into which group based on a short survey or other quick method (despite what the big test prep companies might have you think). The best way to tell is to have a student take at least one sample exam for each test. Schedule an appointment for a practice exam today if you’re still on the fence.

What's Different Between the Tests?

  • The ACT offers less time per question than the SAT.

  • ACT questions tend to be much more direct.

  • The ACT has a science section, which makes up 25% of the score.

  • The timing and structure of the optional essay differs for both tests.

  • Math makes up 50% of the SAT, while being 25% of the ACT.

What's the Same on Both Tests?

  • Both have similar math, reading, and writing concepts and test at similar difficulty level.

  • Both tests take about 3 hours without the optional essay.

  • Students are no longer penalized for wrong answers on either test.

Can't decide?

Crimson Review offers a package to help students decide which test to take. It includes:
  • An SAT diagnostic test
  • An ACT diagnostic test
  • Scoring for both tests
  • Formal review and recommendation from the Director
  • A half hour session with Director to review the tests and recommendation



While starting early is always better, the decision can be made any time prior to the student starting their senior year of high school. Call us at 610.688.6441, email for more information or register here to reserve your place.