New SAT vs. ACT



Difficulty The New SAT is harder than the ACT, particularly the reading section. Time management is a challenge, but the ACT is easier (except the science section).
Timing 180 minutes to answer 154 questions 175 minutes to answer 215 questions
Coaching There are only four College Board practice tests available, and nobody has experience preparing students for this test. Many companies can help with ACT preparation, and we have tons of practice materials, including over 20 REAL ACT exams!
Scores March SAT score reports will be delayed at least six weeks, making it hard to prepare for a 2nd SAT test. No score delay means it’s easier to consider (and prepare for) a 2nd ACT test date.
Topics 20 math problems w/o a calculator and SAT math is more confusing than ACT math. Science challenges some students; other sections are more straightforward.
High Achievers May have an advantage because they’re less dependent on test prep and these tests are curved. Tended to do relatively better on the ACT because it was less coachable than the old SAT.  Now, this may apply to the new SAT next March.
Verdict High achievers can focus on the New SAT and add MegaPrep (ACT stuff not covered in SAT Prep). Most students should focus on the ACT until summer  2016.  Then, we’ll know more about the New SAT.

Important Notes:

  1. The information on this page is appropriate for most students.   Still, there are exceptions and we can help you determine what is best for your student.   For example, students with a lot of winter/spring extracurricular activities need to consider how much time they have to prepare for any of these tests.
  2. Our thoughts are evolving as we learn more about the New SAT, so we reserve the right to amend our opinions.   We will ALWAYS tell you what we think is best for our students, even when it’s NOT what’s best for our business.

Which Test Should You Take?

  • Most students should focus on the ACT because it’s a more predictable test and many companies (including Lafayette Academy) know how to prepare students for the ACT.  Also, the delay in getting March 2016 SAT results will be problematic for many people.
  • However, the uncertainty about the New SAT may benefit high achievers because the test scores are curved.  Other students won’t have as good an opportunity to improve their “innate” scores.  Still, high achievers should enroll in MegaPrep so they hedge their bets with the ACT in April or June 2016.

When should students take the tests?

  • May is the best time to take the New SAT because companies will have learned more about the new test from the March test administration.  MegaPrep students can then prepare for the June ACT.  However, the March test might be better for high achievers with an innate advantage.
  • If you’re starting with the ACT, April is the best test date because you can retake the ACT in June or do MegaPrep to prepare for the June SAT.
  • Make sure you include your decisions about the SAT Subject Tests in your overall planning process.

We offer classes and private tutoring for all of these tests, and we can give you personalized advice that makes sense for your son or daughter.  Feel free to contact us with any additional questions.