Why More International Students Are Interested in the ACT Now


Although in the U.S. more students take the ACT than take the SAT, globally this is not the case. Far more international students take the latter test and there are far more SAT test centers in the world than ACT centers, making it the more convenient test for many international students.

But the SAT is changing big-time in March 2016, and many of the reasons it was more appealing to international students in the past are no longer going to apply.

Here’s what you need to know about the new SAT that just might change your mind about the ACT:

In the past, many non-native English speakers avoided the ACT because it required more reading than the SAT. There were longer passages and questions throughout the test on every single section from English to Math to Reading to Science. The ACT hasn’t changed in this respect, but the SAT has. Whereas the SAT used to test grammar issues within isolated sentences, it now tests English writing skills within the context of longer passages, just like the ACT. In addition, the new SAT math section includes longer word problems and the Reading test now includes one passage from what the SAT calls “U.S. Founding Documents” or the “Great Global Conversation.” This passage might be from a modern text, but it might also originate in the 18th or 19th century, which means the sentence structure, vocabulary, and style will be more archaic and thus more challenging for a non-native speaker.

Although the essay is now optional on both the SAT and ACT, it’s required for many competitive U.S. universities, so if you are an international student eyeing a college admissions test, it’s also worth considering the differences here. Both the essays are challenging, but the SAT requires students to write their essay based on their evaluation of a passage of approximately 700 words. The new ACT essay prompts, on the other hand, provide students with three short perspectives on a controversial issue and asks them to present their own perspectives. The essay is still challenging, but the SAT puts more of an emphasis on reading skills. In fact, one of the scores on the SAT essay is literally called “Reading,” meaning your score is based on how well you were able to understand the prompt.