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SAT versus ACT Unlocked

The difference between the SAT and ACT per Woodland’s Test Prep.

Time is changing right in front of our eyes, from the most complex things, such as computers and phones, to the least complex, such as how we take a test. However, this is not just a test since this test could very well keep us from going to certain colleges. 

Of course, this test is the SAT, Scholastic Aptitude Test, which has long been taken on paper goes digital March 9th, 2024, when the first online SAT will be taken. This test is essential to many high schoolers’ lives as they think about their futures and colleges. As modern technology makes its way into the SAT, we should be aware of how the digital test will differ from the traditional pencil and paper.


When considering ways to test, the SAT and the ACT, American College Testing, are both acceptable to colleges; however, before taking them, it is vital to know the difference to decide which is for you. The SAT contains three sections: reading, language, writing, and math (calculator and no calculator), with an optional essay writing section. In comparison, the ACT has english, math, reading, and science, as well as an optional writing section that includes an essay. One of the majors differences is the time of the test. The SAT has a significantly longer time allotted for the test than the ACT. Not only are the sections different, but the scores are ranged differently; the SAT has a range of 400-1600, while the ACT is measured from a score of 1-36. The ACT is available online and on paper, while the SAT is now only digital.

How is the SAT different from online vs. traditional:

Not only is the SAT digital, but the college board has also made the SAT “a better experience.” According to the college board, the differences are 

  • The SAT will be taken on a laptop or tablet.
  • The test will be shorter, about 2 hours instead of 3. 
  • The reading passages will be shorter instead of a few long texts.
  • Calculators will be allowed in the entire Math section, and one is built right into the Bluebook testing website.

According to Forbes Advisor, the college board decided to make the SAT digital to make it easier to take and administer and more relevant. Thanks to the new adaptive testing described in a USA Today article, the test can be shorter by dividing the math and reading sections into two parts. The article said, “A student’s performance in the first part of each section will determine the difficulty level of the second part that shows up on their screen.” The online test also aims to be more on topic with high school curriculums, making it more accurate and easy for students.

The SAT may be changing in many ways, but the College Board has also shared how it stays the same.

  • It still measures the knowledge and skills that matter most for college and career.
  • Still scores the test on a 1600-point scale.
  • The test is still administered in schools or test centers with a proctor present (not at home). Test centers will remain open to all students, not just those enrolled in that school.
  • Still offering access to free, world-class practice resources.
  • It still supports all students, including those who need accommodations on test day.

As technology continues to grow in modern society, many changes and things will stay the same. We can determine the best approach to new things by understanding the changes.

New ways to study:

As a result of the new adaptive testing, the way to study for these tests has also changed vastly; some even say that the big SAT study books will not be relevant anymore. While traditional textbooks may not be effective anymore, many websites and the College Board have provided new and relevant study tests made for the digital SAT such as,


In conclusion, technology has made a way to improve standardized testing and make it easier for students and administrators to deal with the test. The new online test has made it easier for students by having an adaptive style, shorter readings, a built in calculator for all math questions, and an overall shorter test. 

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About the Contributor
Sarah Jones
Sarah Jones, Senior Staff
Sarah Jones is a Senior staff member and has been a part of the OSOTA yearbook team for one year. She has gone to OSOTA for nine years and is currently in the 10th grade.
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