SAT and ACT: Not Your Average Exams

Ally Learning tutors are familiar with the pressures of earning high marks on the SATs and/or ACTs. It hasn’t been long since our tutors themselves took the exams. They will be the first to admit to the pressures that come with earning the desired score(s). These test scores could be the determining factor in whether a student gets into his or her top school of choice. Therefore, Ally Learning is set to make effective and affordable College Entrance Exam Prep Courses a top priority.

Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the State of Michigan began prioritizing the SAT over the ACT. Furthermore, students taking the SAT are taking a completely redesigned test from the one that was used for the previous decade. However, the Classes of 2018 and 2019 are strongly encouraged to start focusing and preparing for the SAT as soon as possible (Note: it is still considered a wise strategy to take the ACT* in addition to the SAT. Some colleges are still interested in knowing ACT scores).

*The ACT has also recently been redesigned.
Sample SAT Questions
Early Reviews of the Redesigned SAT

Ally Learning’s Summer SAT and ACT Test Prep course schedules are still being finalized. We will provide updated information on the home site, Facebook, and other social media in the coming weeks. For now, here is brief compare/contrast of the two Exams:
ACT vs. SAT (As of Fall 2017)

Math ·         Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry,

·         and Trigonometry

·         Questions are straightforward.

·         Now includes Trigonometry

·         Questions include more Data Analysis

Reading ·         Reading Comprehension ·         Reading Comprehension

·         Words in Context (Vocab.)

·         Evidence-Based Reading

Science ·         Basic Content

·         Analysis

·         Interpretation

·         Evaluation and Problem Solving

Not tested. However, test measures ability to charts, infographics, and scientific data
Writing Writing and Language Multiple Choice.


Optional Writing Test

  • Optional final section
  • 40-minute testing time
  • Separate score, not included in composite score
  • Topic presents conversations around contemporary issues
  • Tests ability to argue a point of view in a clear way, using concrete examples
Grammar and Rhetorical Skills Multiple Choice


Optional Essay

  • Optional final section
  • 50-minute testing time
  • Separate score, not included in overall score
  • Topic comes from a 750-word passage to be read on test day
  • Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills
Test Structure














Wrong Answer Penalty

4 sections*

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science

*Plus an Optional Writing Test



You will receive a composite score between 1-36, which is an average of your scores on the 4 multiple-choice test sections (each section is scored between 1-36).

The optional Writing Test score will be between 1-36 and is not included in the overall composite score.





No Wrong Answer Penalty

4 sections*

  • Evidence-Based Reading
  • Evidence-Based Writing
  • Math without a Calculator
  • Math with a Calculator

*Plus an Optional Essay



You will receive an overall score out of 1600. Your overall score is calculated by adding your score on the Math section with your score on the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing section (each section is scored on an 800-point scale).

The optional Essay receives a separate score that is not included in the overall score.



No Wrong Answer Penalty

Timing  3 hours, 35 minutes (including the optional Writing Test; not including breaks 3 hours, 50 minutes (including the optional Essay; not including breaks
Preparation Less official exams available Many more official exams are available.

Source: Kaplan (ACT vs. SAT)
Christopher Kwiecien

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