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Final-year American high school students pretty much know the difference between the SAT and ACT and their importance in their educational journey. This one is for our international students; SAT and ACT are the standardised exams for undergraduate students who primarily want to study in the USA.

College admission in the USA is based on SAT and ACT scores, and scholarships are also granted based on that basis. If you are appearing for these tests, you must know the difference between them and understand the basics to determine which is best for you.

Strategies for SAT and ACT Success 

Like Bobby Unser said, “Success is Where Preparation and Opportunity Meets”. Preparing according to your needs will guide you to your destination faster. Let us find out the smarter way; read on!

1. Understanding the Tests

What is SAT?

Scholastic Aptitude Test(SAT) is a standardised exam to test students’ ability to read, write and mathematical knowledge. SAT scores are accepted in the UK, Australian and Canadian Universities, so it’s easy to choose your future college from multiple destinations. The exam used to be conducted in a traditional paper-pencil test; however, since March 2023, it has become completely digital. SAT is a 2-hour and 14-minute long exam, and it consists of 2 major sections – Reading, Writing and Math. Following is the breakdown of the test –

A) Sections –

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW)
  • Math
  • Essay (optional)

B) Question Types –

  • Reading comprehension passages
  • Writing and language questions
  • Algebra, geometry, and trigonometry problems

C) Scoring System –

  • EBRW and Math sections are scored on a scale of 200-800 each, with the total score ranging from 400-1600.
  • The Essay section is scored separately on a scale of 6-24.

What is ACT? 

American College Testing, also known as ACT, is a standardised test for students applying for undergraduate degrees in the USA. ACT scores are accepted across many high-end educational destinations, such as Canada, the UK, Italy, and many more. It is a two-hour and 55-minute exam that includes around 215 questions based on English, Reading, Mathematics, Science, and an Essay (Optional). Following is the breakdown of the test – 

A) Sections:

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Essay (optional)

B) Question Types:

  • English: Grammar and punctuation
  • Math: Algebra, geometry, and trigonometry
  • Reading: Passage-based comprehension
  • Science: Data interpretation and analysis

C) Scoring System:

  • Each section is scored on a scale of 1-36.
  • The Composite Score is the average of the four multiple-choice sections, rounded to the nearest whole number.

2. Setting Goals and Creating a Study Plan

Setting realistic score goals based on target colleges and scholarship opportunities is crucial. Strategies for creating a personalised study plan, such as setting aside dedicated study time and balancing preparation with other commitments, will lead to better results. SAT preparation involves a lot of reading and writing, and ACT preparation involves more mathematical and science problem-solving. 

You can break down your study plan and prepare according to your schedule to keep track of your progress. The internet is filled with online study courses that will help you achieve your target score in no time, so do not miss out on utilising these resources to get into your dream school. 

3. Effective Study Techniques

Remember to do a full outline of your study techniques. For example, you can consider practice tests, flashcards, and review sessions to make studying easy and a little bit fun. These effective study techniques will help you succeed in the exams. 

Improving your critical thinking, time management, and problem-solving skills can help you score higher on both the SAT and ACT. Having an effective study routine has many benefits, including helping you not only score better but also stay calm and feel less stressed. 

4. Resources and Practice Materials

It is highly recommended that you use high-quality study resources, including the official practice tests, prep books, and online study courses provided by the SAT and ACT exam conductors. Do not limit yourself to only the official practice papers; outsource your knowledge to gain a deep understanding of the exam. 

The more you practice, the more defined your knowledge will become. You can also consider boot camps to sharpen your process and get some personal space just to prepare for your big day. These boot camps are specially designed for such competitive exams; for better focus, you get personalized student accommodations, a strict schedule, and plenty of practice papers. Your determination will bloom in your exam results.

5. Test-Day Strategies

It is normal to feel a little stressed on exam day. The best way to cope with test anxiety is to manage it and stay focused during the exam. But before your big moment, you must eat properly, be calm, and keep repeating in your head that you are prepared and you are ready for it. Carry your flashcards and play a fun game in your head. Believing in yourself is the ultimate test-day strategy. 


Always remember that success on standardised tests is achievable with diligent preparation and the right strategies. Follow the above bullet points and experiment with your own strategies to get greater results. Start your preparation early, stay committed and Good Luck!

About AmberStudent—Amber Student is one of the leading student accommodation platforms, established in 2016 and serving over 80 million students globally. Amber Student is your one-stop destination for all your housing needs, fully assisted by Amber experts. Download the Amber app from the Google Play or App Store to book an affordable home for your adventure.

Author’s Bio – Bobby Sinha is a storyteller; she enjoys watching Japanese indie movies and knows various ways of using a chopstick. A graduate in business, working as a writer, and someday aspiring to become a Filmmaker proves how versatile she is.

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