The majority of our viewership (over 2/3!) prefer the SAT. But in the coming years, particularly as we transition to a new digital SAT, I’m recommending most students who want to seriously prep their way to a higher score consider taking the ACT instead. Even for the class of 2024, the ACT is a great option that more students should at least learn more about.
1. The Digital SAT is a whole new game.
Students in the classes of 2025 and 2026 should strongly consider prepping primarily for the ACT, because the digital SAT is going to be less accessible in terms of practice materials and knowledge.
Not only are there only 4 digital practice exams (there are also 4 “linear” exams of content as well that students insistent on SAT should check out), but there are very few books released at this time for the exam. As tutors and book authors, experts like myself have only just gotten access to the material we need to create suitable and thoughtful practice material. It may take a while for these materials to be further proofed and perfected.
The ACT on the other hand has dozens of released exams that tutors, authors, and experts have seen or worked with students on, and its character is far more clear to those providing you expertise.
In addition to 7 tests in the ACT’s official book, there are several others available– an online test, several other online tests in the online ACT prep app, multiple released PDFs of past tests in packets released by ACT (called “Preparing for the ACT). Similarly, the TIR (Test information release) exams of the ACT are also not officially distributed, but exist– if you have a sibling who took the test, they may have access to all of their previous questions.
The same can be said of classes and tutors– it takes a bit to perfect strategies and content for a new test. To add to that, many tutors work only part time or as a side gig on a test they personally invested in when they were younger– but don’t expect to invest in learning now. There will be more qualified ACT tutors on the market for the next two years than SAT ones.
2. The ACT schedule is better for many students
True, every teen has a different schedule, but the ACT’s test dates tend to sync better with many of my students’ schedules. In particular, I find the June date is after finals for over 70% of my students, the July date is great, and the September date is close enough to the summer to have come out of an intensive prep and enrichment time to be prepared without sacrificing academic time.
Here’s this year’s ACT schedule:
February 11, 2023
April 15, 2023
June 10, 2023
July 15, 2023 (not in New York)
September 9, 2023
October 21, 2023
December 9, 2023
3. It's just more straightforward.
While I don’t tell my private students necessarily they need to take the ACT as I know they will have expert hand-holding level advice on the SAT or ACT to navigate a challenge, for most self-studiers I find the ACT is a more straightforward exam to prep for. If you work hard, you improve. The SAT is harder to untangle, it’s sophisticated, and unless you “lean” SAT, struggle with time immensely, or are trying to be a National Merit Finalist, the ACT may be the better test for you.