SAT vs ACT Test

Which Test is Right for You?

Many students and parents begin the college prep process by comparing the ACT and SAT tests. The SAT and ACT generally cover the same topics. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not prefer one test over the other.

Compare the ACT and SAT tests

  • ACT includes a Science section
  • SAT includes one SAT Math Section on which you may not use a calculator

 

SAT

ACT

Why Take It?

Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.

Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.

Test Structure

  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • Essay (Optional)
  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science Reasoning
  • Essay (Optional)

Length

 

 

3 hours (without essay)

3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)

2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)

3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

Reading

5 reading passages

4 reading passages

Science

None

1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)

Maths

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry and Trigonometry

Calculator Policy

Some math questions don't allow you to use a calculator.

You can use a calculator on all math questions.

Essays

Optional. The essay will test your comprehension of a source text.

Optional. The essay will test how well you evaluate and analyse complex issues.

How It's Scored

Scored on a scale of 400–1600

Scored on a scale of 1–36

 




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