The ACT is hard. It is designed to test the skills that you have accumulated throughout your entire educational career. It is also designed so that only a small portion of students can score at the very top. If the exam were not hard, it would not accomplish those goals. However, when many people ask this question, they are really asking: “Is the ACT harder than the SAT?” The answer to that question is more subjective. The ACT may be harder for some people and easier for others. Here are four things to consider when you are deciding whether or not the ACT is for you.
To complete the ACT you will have to answer more questions with less time than on the SAT. If you do well under pressure and tend not to second guess yourself, the ACT is for you.
You will need to read more at a faster rate for the ACT. The ACT has longer reading passages, for reading comprehension, but also for math and science. However, these passages do not require the extensive vocabulary knowledge that the SAT demands. If you have the focus required to get through long passages, the ACT will be a better choice for you.
One of the major differences between the SAT and ACT math sections is that the SAT provides formulas for you. The ACT requires that you have these formulas memorized. These formulas are common formulas that you would have learned in your math coursework. However, choose the SAT if you don’t feel confident about remembering formulas under pressure.
The ACT is very straightforward. It wants to test the skills and knowledge you have learned, not your critical thinking skills. Many students feel that the SAT is attempting to trick you by using unusual wording so that you have to use logical thinking to come to a solution. The ACT has more clear questions, with clear answers. If you know the material, you won’t need to question yourself.
Both the ACT and SAT are challenging by design, however you can perform well on either or even both exams. Think about your style of learning and your style of test taking and decide which exam you will feel most comfortable with. Your level of confidence and the work you put into preparing are the most important factors in determine your success on either exam.