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ACT vs. Digital SAT

ACT VS Digital SAT

Want to know the difference between the ACT and NEW digital SAT? Read some of our most asked questions below and take a look at our new score conversion chart!

Which test is a better fit for me?

It depends! The best way to know for sure is by comparing scores. We recommend students take a practice test for both, then use our handy conversion chart to determine which test yields a higher score.

Score about the same on both? About 75% of students will score in about the same range. If this is you, let’s look at some other factors to help you determine which test to focus on. Was one test easier to get through than the other? Did one test seem easier for you? Did you feel rushed on one test over the other? These are all important questions to ask to help you figure out the best test for you. Need more guidance?  Give our office a call to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation.

So how are they different?

The Digital SAT (coming to students in March of 2024) is a computerized adaptive test which consists of two sections: Reading and Writing and Math. Each section is divided into 2 equal length modules, and there is a 10-minute break between the Reading and Writing section and the Math section. Based on how students perform on the first module, the second module of questions will either be more difficult or less difficult. While the Digital SAT is a bit shorter than the ACT at 2 hours and 14 minutes, the pacing of the test is slower. Students will have more time per question (about 65 seconds) on the Digital SAT than on the ACT.

Have questions about the changes to the SAT? Read more here!

The ACT consists of four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Right now, the ACT is only offered in a pencil-and-paper format. ACT Inc. has just announced that they will offer an online testing option beginning December 2023. When registration opens for the 2023-2024 school year in July, students will have the option to test pencil-and-paper (current format) or online at select locations. The December pilot test will be available to only 5,000 students.  Read more on the online ACT option here.

Whether testing on paper or on a computer, the ACT runs longer than the Digital SAT at 2 hours and 55 minutes, including a ten minute break in between the math and reading sections, but is a faster-paced test than the Digital SAT. Students taking the ACT will only have about 49 seconds per question. Students who struggle with Reading may prefer the Digital SAT over the ACT. The ACT reading section includes a long passage followed by ten questions, whereas the Digital SAT has short passages followed by only 1 question.

The digital SAT is adaptive?? What does that even mean?

According to the College Board website, “The digital SAT Suite will utilize a multistage adaptive methodology.” That’s just a fancy way of saying the questions a student sees in the second module of each section will vary based on how he/she performs in the first module.

The ACT has a science section? What’s on that? Should I have paid more attention in my biology class?

Don’t worry if you dozed off a bit in the molecular genetics section of your biology class, the majority of the science questions will focus on interpreting data, assessing experiments based on the scientific procedure, and evaluating results from an experiment. Although advanced knowledge in the sciences are not required to do well, a basic understanding of introductory courses may be needed to answer some of the questions. More information on the breakdown of the science section can be found here.

Do colleges prefer one over the other?

Nope! Colleges will accept either test for admissions. We recommend students determine which test yields the highest score and/or they are most confident taking and then work to improve on that score to submit with their college application.

Should I prep for both tests?

Generally, we advise that students focus on one test or the other, unless the school or program a student is applying to requires it. If a student does decide to take both, we recommend they complete testing on one format before switching to the other so they are not confusing strategies and timing when testing.

How do I convert my SAT score to ACT (or vice versa)?

We’ve made it easy for you! Once you have scores to compare, use our score conversion chart!