Why the Changes?

According to David Coleman, the CEO and Board President for College Board, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is making changes so that students won’t have to spend as much money on testing preparation; also, “these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school classrooms…” (CNN)  All in all, the College Board wants to keep their tests up-to-date for college readiness.

The makers and researchers of the American College Testing (ACT) are constantly looking for ways to make sure that the ACT is a reflection of what is taught and learned in school; in addition, just like the SAT, the ACT is targeted to be a an accurate guide for your college and career.


Overall, the content you will be tested on has changed. The math section emphasizes graph and data interpretation; the reading section focuses on data reasoning and evidence support; the writing section is now a passage-based section; lastly, instead of 25 minutes, you now have 50 minutes for your essay and you will be analyzing other writings as well.  Don’t these changes kind of sound like the ACT test? Well, that is what most people are claiming! To cheer up those who are dreading these changes, there will be no penalty for guessing on questions; before, you’d get a ¼ point deduction for every wrong question.  Are you wondering how the scoring changed? The SAT is going back to the 1600-point scale, but the essay will be graded separately from your section scores.

Fortunately, the new SAT might be a little easier for some because of the no-guessing penalty and somewhat simpler questions; also, the old SAT has been administered for a long time so there are plenty of study materials to help you out.

Also, the essay is now optional; however, double check with your potential colleges because they may or may not require an essay.


The main changes that educators and students are looking at when it comes to the ACT are the new sub-scores.  These include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and ELA (English Language) sub-scores.  Both the STEM and ELA sub-scores will allow students to know what their weak and strong points are on certain subjects.

Another major change that you should pay attention to is the Writing section.  Don’t worry! It’s still an optional section, but now you’ll have one prompt, one issue, and three total perspectives.  Instead of just defending your side of an argument, you now have to “explain the relationship your perspective has with the three that are given.”  (Petersons)  In addition, the Writing Section time has extended to a total of 40 minutes.


Overall, with the new changes to both tests, the SAT and ACT, are becoming more similar; however, the SAT is more so designed to test your critical thinking and reasoning skills while the ACT is designed to test you on content you should have learned in school.  I can’t tell you which test you should take but with these changes and all of these different types of resources available, you’ll make the right choice for you and your future.





4 thoughts on “The New SAT V.S. The New ACT: A Closer Look

    1. Hello! I think it really depends on you, your testing skills, and content knowledge.

      For me, the hardest part is timing. I know that I know how to do math all the way up to pre-calculus and how to read a science passage to find the answers. I have the hardest time managing my time for anything; so, when I take practice tests, I time myself like how the real test would be. I hope to take a few more practice tests before the big day. That way, I’m prepared and now what to expect for the timing.

      When it comes to content, you just have to know your material. There are countless number of resources that you can use to help you study. Joi has a formula sheet here

      I suggest etiher taking an online pretest to help you figure out what you need to study for the content; I also suggest taking practice tests at least a couple times a month to practice the timing out for the real ACT.

      All in all, remember that you’re farther ahead of a lot of people by inquiring about the ACT; make sure you know where you’re at before the ACT so that nothing comes as a surprise to you.


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