There are two standardized admission tests to apply to colleges and universities in the US: the SAT and the ACT in Moraga. Whether you choose one or both, it’s entirely your personal decision, as long as you have the ability and preparedness in doing well on them.

It’s recommended that you should take either the SAT or the ACT as early as possible, preferably before college applications start rolling in during your senior year.

But why would you want to take both SAT and ACT if you can take just one? It’s because they are both accepted by the majority of colleges and universities in the country. They also use both SAT and ACT to grant scholarships to deserving students based on their scores (as well as other academic or non-academic merits). Taking both of them will give you a better chance to clinch these scholarships.

If they are both standardized examinations, what are the differences the two? Here are the main differences:

Testing style:

  • The SAT is designed as an aptitude test — it tests your verbal and your reasoning capabilities.
  • The ACT is designed as an achievement test — it tests what you have learned in school.

Number of sections:

  • The revised SAT consists of three major sections (the Reading section; the Writing and Language section; and the Math section). The Essay section is optional.
  • The ACT, on the other hand, consists of four sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science). The Essay section is also optional. If you are a science buff, in particular, you may have a better chance of test success by taking the ACT.

Test length:

  • The revised SAT goes for three hours (and 50 minutes if you choose the Essay section). While the SAT takes a bit longer, it may allow a bit more time for the students to answer their questions. As a bonus — the revised SAT does not give penalties for wrong answer choices, so students are now free to make guesses.
  • The ACT goes for 2 hours and 55 minutes (without the essay). If you like the challenge of time pressure, you may choose the ACT.

When will you actually decide to take both tests? There are a lot of factors to consider:

  • When the colleges you wish to apply may require you to take both the SAT and ACT.
  • When you want a higher chance of getting admitted to the colleges of your choice.
  • Deciding to take both tests will enable you to start to prepare earlier, and prepare more efficiently.
  • The more information, the better. Taking both tests and submitting both scores will also allow you to give better information about yourself to the college’s admission committee.
  • It allows for more flexibility and ease when it comes to choosing test dates. You will be able to choose dates that will fit your schedule.
  • Since taking both tests will allow you more options and opportunities for getting to your desired colleges, you will feel less stress, helping you to prepare better and more easily. You will eventually feel more confident and self-assured as you enter the testing center.

If you are firm in your decision to take both the SAT and the ACT, the question is: when’s the best time to take them, and to start practicing and reviewing? It is best to start as early as possible because it allows time for you to improve if need be.

If you’re still in your junior year, you might as well take the PSAT to expose yourself to the SAT. As for the ACT, you may take the ACT Aspire (which recently replaced the ACT Plan), which is pretty much their version of PSAT.

Next, you may want to take the ACT or SAT in during your winter break to accustom yourself more to the format. Then, as you’re still a junior, take the ACT or SAT in May or June, as you need to prepare more for the “big thing.” At this point, your scores may have significantly improved.

It’s good to use your summer vacation days to study in order to prepare yourself for the ACT in September or SAT in October when you’re in your senior year. If the results still do not satisfy you or you aim for a higher (or even perfect) score, take the SAT and ACT in November and December.

Of course, it can be double the work when you’re taking both the SAT and ACT in Moraga. You may sacrifice your extracurricular or social life to devote yourself to these exams, but if you know the results are going to be worth the sacrifices, then go for them and do the best that you can.