The challenges the SAT and ACT pose come at us all at once. Sure, each exam is administered often throughout the academic year, but, basically, when you have room in your schedule for one, you’ll probably want to take both for more than simply logistical reasons.
Some sources suggest studying for these exams sequentially, which strikes me as a terrible waste of time because of the tremendous overlap between the two. Our approach has always been to prepare students for both tests at once, with exceptions, of course. This process not only saves time but also helps determine more quickly whether students have advantages on one of the two tests worth focusing on. But while we are able to explain the basis of our philosophy to the families we work with, students and parents outside our orbit keep hearing the same misconceptions. So, in an effort to correct the record when someone on Quora asked, “Should I study for the ACT and SAT at the same time?“, I answered as follows:
Absolutely. The two tests have never been as similar as they are right now. In fact, if you compare the English section of the ACT to the Writing and Language section of the SAT side-by-side, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two.
The SAT and ACT test substantially the same passage-based reading skills, mostly through non-fiction passages.
Of course the two have specific differences, which you can and should focus on through high-quality practice testing and targeted review. But whether you think so or not, prepping for one can’t help but prepare you to a certain extent for the other.