In a normal year, the SAT® versus ACT® advice is very straightforward: take an official past test of each, compare the scores, and prep for the test that fits a student best.

This is not a normal year.

The SAT has had its most radical redesign. As a result, there are a few additional considerations before making the decision to take the SAT or ACT.

Additional Considerations

First, I should mention that I love the new, digital SAT. I was not the biggest fan of the last version of the SAT (which ran from 2016-2023). The last test had some subjective questions on it, and the curves on the grammar and math sections could be absolutely brutal (the worst ever math curve was 50 points off for just 1 question incorrect). The new SAT fixed all of those problems: all of the questions on the new SAT have provably correct answers, and the curves are much improved (at the high end of the scale the questions get so difficult that there is more precision at the highest scores).

But, there are some drawbacks:

  • Very limited (none at all?) authentic practice content: There are only 6 “authentic” practice tests. None of these have been given as real tests, and, as compared to the first-ever digital SAT results released in March, they seem to overestimate students’ SAT scores by, on average, 70 points. That means that if a student is averaging a 1400 on the “authentic” practice tests, a better estimate of their score (at least as compared to the March results) is a 1330 on the real test. There are now very high-quality third-party tests (which we give our students access to), but these too are limited because they are imitations of the 6 “official” practice tests, which (compared to the real March test) themselves seem to only be imitations of the real, digital SAT.
  • Future unknown: The last time the SAT changed (in 2016), it took them about 2 years before the test became consistent and more predictable. Given that the digital SAT was rolled out to international students last year (a year before it was released in the US), I thought they would have worked out the inconsistencies. It’s unclear if they have. It’s possible that the Collegeboard practice tests overestimate real scores by 70 points. Or it’s possible that the March results were abnormally low and that subsequent SATs will have more lenient scoring in line with the scoring on the practice tests. There are indications that the School Day SAT given on a separate day in March was significantly more leniently scored and much more accurately matched the “official” practice tests. Will the May and June tests follow the lenient practice test scoring or the harsh scoring on the March SAT? It’s too early to tell.
  • More on the topic of content: Roughly 65% of questions on the “authentic” practice tests could be solved solely with the on-screen graphing calculator (Desmos). Students didn’t really need to understand more than half of the Math sections to get more than half of the Math sections correct. That appears to be wildly not true for the real March SAT, which is reported to have had a majority of questions constructed in such a way that Desmos was of limited to no use or would take an inordinate of time to use. Thus, students practicing on the “authentic” practice tests have to, at a minimum, learn to master the use of Desmos but not overly rely upon it — in short, they should use Desmos to solve all possible questions in practice but also redo those same problems mathematically so that they can apply that knowledge on test day if those question types are asked in a Desmos-proof manner.

What Should Students Do?

Lean toward the ACT.

For now, a student should deduct 70 points from their “official” practice test scores, and then use that adjusted score to compare to an official past mock ACT score in order to make a determination on which test to focus on. The mock ACT test is a real past ACT, as opposed to the “official” Collegeboard practice tests which may not predict real test scores.

But, if a student, after making a 70 point adjustment to their SAT practice test scores, still does better on the SAT, then they should prep for the SAT. It really is a better test than the older version of the SAT, and it’s very appealing that it’s a shorter test, it has a very powerful on-screen graphing calculator available to all students, and has more accuracy and margin for error at the high end of the scoring scale than the previous version of the SAT.


But, in any event, all students should keep this in mind: both the SAT and ACT evaluate students on fundamental knowledge and skills in grammar, reading, mathematics, and data analysis. This knowledge and skill can be improved and are important for success in high school, college, and life. Work hard, and you will succeed on whichever path you take.

SAT® and ACT® are registered trademarks belonging, respectively, to Collegeboard and ACT, Inc. Neither Collegeboard nor ACT, Inc. is involved with or affiliated with Summit Prep, nor does the SAT or ACT, Inc. endorse or sponsor any of the products or services offered by Summit Prep.


Margie B.
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I can’t thank david for all his hard work and getting my son the score he was aiming for!! Summit prep is an unbelievable place to get your kids ready for their college prep Act and SAT courses!!! Thanks again for making this year end with a bang!!
Thomas S.
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The entire experience from start to finish was excellent. The process was clearly outlined and understood. Scheduling was a breeze and our teacher come not have been more flexible.
Georgia B.
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Eva was wonderful. With her help I was able to get into my top school and receive and scholarship. I loved her help and spending time studying.
Jeanine L.
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We were lucky enough to be referred to David at Summit Prep! My son enjoyed working with David as he felt that he really helped him prepare for the ACT. He explained concepts covered on the test as well as the test itself. My son felt confident taking the test and did so well that he only had to take it once!
Ben H.
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David helped me improve my SAT from a 1480 to a 1570 over the course of about 2 months. Each session made me feel more and more confident.
Jill B.
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Eva took on an almost impossible task and seriously worked a miracle! We found out we were moving, and our son had to take the ISEE exam asap. From his practice test to the exam, his scores went up exponentially. We give her 5 enthusiastic stars!
Rachel F.
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My twins have had a wonderful experience with Summit Prep preparing for the ACT. David is extremely knowledgeable and connects individually in a very relatable and helpful manner for each student. I highly recommend Summit Prep!
Janice B.
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All three of my children have used Summit Prep for their test prep and, I believe, reached their full potential as a result of the outstanding guidance of David and Ryan. His ongoing support went above and beyond. Many thanks!
Kwesi A.
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My son just got accepted into MIddlebury!! He could not have gotten a better tutor than Eva!!! She is the best!
Arlene S.
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Summit Prep are professional, enthusiastic, encouraging and most importantly successful in helping our son achieve his goals. We would strongly recommend using David and his team and want to convey our thanks for all of their help!

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