Thoughtful Parenting: SAT vs. ACT: A breakdown |

Thoughtful Parenting: SAT vs. ACT: A breakdown

One the most frequently asked questions from parents is, Should my student(s) take the SAT or the ACT? What is the difference? Do colleges or universities accept both? What should we be on the lookout for?

The SAT and ACT are two very different college entrance exams. Both are nationally administered and are used to help colleges evaluate applicants.

The SAT is essentially a three-part test (reading, math and writing) while the ACT is more of an achievement test with four core sections (English, math, reading and science) and an optional writing section.

Throughout the decades, schools located on the East Coast generally have preferred the SAT, and schools located on the West Coast generally have preferred the ACT.

Many colleges now will accept either or both of the exams. Below is a side-by-side comparison that will help parents and students better understand the structure and content of the SAT and ACT.

This first glance at the SAT and ACT exams will help you and your student navigate the beginning steps of college entrance. Colorado Student Care staff can assist with direction and support for families during this process.

Additional information about the SAT can be found at, and additional information about the ACT can be found at

George Avgares is the executive director for Colorado Student Care in Steamboat Springs. He’s been involved in the youth educational nonprofit sector for 15 years. Avgares is a member of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition, whose website can be found at

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