Article by: Sally J.

Illustration by: Jerico B.

Those applying to US colleges are required to submit an ACT or SAT score when applying for university. In order to get the best possible scores in these standardized exams, seasoned test-takers have offered some tips for eager students who are currently studying for the tests. These seniors also gave insight into the differences between the two exams to help those who are still unsure about which test is a better fit.


Can you give any tips for SAT/ACT takers?

Kirtana D, senior: It’s important to start studying for both as soon as possible, maybe around sophomore year. There are many books available, so there’s no excuse for slacking off. Try to finish all standardized testings by the first semester of junior year, since it’s almost impossible to find time afterward. On the day of the test, remember how much you’ve prepared and go in with a positive mind; you will surely do well!

Sally L, senior: I think it’s really important to start preparing early. The most ideal time to take the test would be in junior year, so make sure to buy the practice test books and familiarize yourself with the resource materials so that you can take the test and get it over with as soon as possible.

Subin S, senior: Reading is one of the best ways to indirectly study for the SATs. Since the test consists of a lot of reading, always challenge yourself with difficult articles or novels so that you can increase your range of vocabulary and comprehension level.


What are some differences between the SAT and ACT?

Kirtana D, senior: While they are similar content-wise, some students do better on one test than the other; science-leaning students generally do better on the ACT. When I took the SAT, I had a much harder time with reading than with math. If you’re confused, take PSAT and Pre-ACT to see which one suits you better! Another option would be to take both the SAT and ACT, that way you can choose which score to send to colleges. While studying for two exams may seem like a lot of work, you only really spend extra time on the science portion of the ACT. The most important thing is to finish all standardized tests, including subject tests, by October of senior year, especially if you’re applying for Early Decision!

Sally L, senior: The English and Math sections of the ACT are much easier than their SAT counterparts. For science, though, you need to do well in reading graphs and understanding experimental results. SATs are much harder context-wise, but you have more time to answer it compared to ACT.


Though standardized testing may seem distant for younger high school students, it’s extremely beneficial to get a head start. With these tips in mind, be on the lookout for exam deadlines and study strategically!

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