SAT vs. ACT: The Showdown

SAT vs. ACT: The Showdown. Two tests enter, only one will receive the Cogito stamp of approval!

Seniors, it’s almost September and your world is about to change. You’ve taken the SAT or ACT already and are looking to improve your score. Juniors, you’re just starting the college process, but will likely take a standardized test before your school year concludes. Regardless of your graduation year, you know that testing is a significant aspect of your application to college. Most schools require submission of SAT or ACT scores, and if they don’t, good scores can still help your application.

Regardless of your situation, it’s smart to take a standardized test during your Junior year and retake the test again your Senior year (or before) to improve your scores. With two tests to choose from, you probably don’t want to spend your time studying for and taking both. Therefore, we want to advise you regarding which test you should put all of your effort towards. While every student is different, Cogito World Education advises international applicants to take the SAT test. Here are the reasons why…


1. The SAT gives students more time to answer each question.

While both tests take roughly the same amount of time, the SAT features less questions and gives students more time to answer these questions. International students may need this extra time to interpret the questions in English and can think their answers through for longer. On the reading sections, the SAT gives students 23 seconds more time per question, 12 seconds on English/Writing, and roughly 20 seconds on Math. Time is money on the SAT.


2. The SAT Math section gives students a greater statistical chances to get questions correct.

The SAT and ACT cover similar topics, but the SAT provides students with some distinct advantages. On the Math section, the SAT offers 4 answer choices, but the ACT offers 5. Therefore your chance of getting any given question correct is 5% better on the SAT. Additionally, the SAT gives students a sheet with pertinent formulas.


3. The ACT science section offers an unnecessary challenge.

Why spend time studying for another specific section? The ACT features a science section that requires knowledge of Earth Science and Biology, a completely different challenge. If science is you thing, have no fear, but most would benefit from focusing on math and English. The ACT states that this section is mostly critical thinking through a scientific lens.


4. Your international curriculum prepares you better for the SAT.

The SAT and ACT were designed in the United States for US students- international students are forced to deal with this reality. US students are taught a similar curriculum across the country, but this may vary significantly around the world. Therefore we suggest taking the test that focuses more on critical thinking (SAT) and less on knowledge learned (ACT).


Overall, we believe that international students should take the SAT test, not the ACT test for the above reasons. While this is our recommendation, it’s advisable to conduct further research and make a good decision for YOU. Each student is different and it’s possible that the ACT might be the best option. For the average international students, we recommend taking the SAT. You can always take a practice test of each before deciding:

Take a practice SAT test at:

Take a practice ACT test at:


For advice on your college process, enroll in Cogito’s Elite Top 100 Admissions program or e-mail us at




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Ataullah K.


“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being patient, understanding, caring towards me for the past year. The scholarship helped a lot in getting my visa. You sure do know how to do a brilliant work and if there is any way I could take a survey about your services at Cogito, I would give you a 10 out of 10.”