SAT®  PREP – SAT VS. ACT

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SAT AND THE ACT?

They are not many… But here is the list anyway.

ABOUT THE ACT

The American College Testing, or ACT, was first introduced in 1959, as a competitor to the SAT. The ACT is now as widely accepted by U.S. universities as the more well-known SAT and is used in the undergraduate admissions process. The ACT college readiness assessment is a curriculum and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students’ academic readiness for college.

The ACT is developed and administered by ACT, Inc., a non-profit organization.

WHAT ARE THE ACT SECTIONS?

Section Duration Questions Skills Measured
English 45 minutes 75 questions Standard written English and rhetorical skills
Mathematics 60 minutes 60 questions Mathematical skills students have typically acquired through their secondary education
Reading 35 minutes 40 questions Reading comprehension
Science 35 minutes 40 questions Interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem-solving skills required in natural sciences
Writing Test (optional) 35 minutes 1 prompt Writing skills emphasized in high-school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses
Section Duration Questions Skills Measured
English 45 min 75 questions Standard written English
and rhetorical skills
Mathematics 60 min 60 questions Mathematical skills
students have typically
acquired through their
secondary education
Reading 35 min 40 questions Reading comprehension
Science 35 min 40 questions Interpretation, analysis,
evaluation, reasoning
and problem-solving
skills required in natural
sciences
Writing Test
(optional)
35 min 1 prompt Writing skills
emphasized in high-
school English classes
and in entry-level college
composition courses

The ACT consists of four sections, which all feature multiple-choice questions. There is also an optional Writing Test, where the test taker is supposed to write an essay following a prompt.

SAT VS. ACT

  ACT SAT
Test length (without the optional essay) 3 hours 3 hours
Mandatory sections 4 3
Math content 25% of overall score; entirely multiple-choice 33% of overall score; trigonometry and fill-in questions
Science content Tests science reasoning (analysis, interpretation, problem solving) Science not included
Essay Optional, last section, 35 minutes Optional, last section, 50 minutes
Scoring 3 scores of 1-36 per subject area
Writing score: 2-12
2 scores of 200-800 per section. Total: 400-1600
Writing score: 3 scores of 2-8
Guessing No penalty for wrong answers No penalty for wrong answers
Score history The test taker decides which scores are sent to the universities The test taker’s entire score history is sent (depending on university requirements)
Fees For testing anywhere outside the U.S.:
$150.00 (No Writing)
$166.50 (With Writing)
For testing anywhere in Europe:
$49.50 (No Essay) + $47.00 Non-U.S. Regional Fee
$64.50 (With Essay) + $47.00 Non-U.S. Regional Fee
Test sessions 7 per year in and outside the U.S. 7 per year in the U.S.; 5 per year outside the U.S.
Subject Tests Do not exist Optional: depend on each university’s requirements or appreciation
  ACT SAT
Test length
(without the
optional
essay)
3 hours 3 hours
Mandatory
sections
4 3
Math
content
25% of overall score;
entirely multiple-choice
33% of overall score;
trigonometry and
fill-in questions
Science
content
Tests science reasoning
(analysis, interpretation,
problem solving)
Science not
included
Essay Optional, last section,
35 minutes
Optional, last section,
50 minutes
Scoring 3 scores of 1-36 per
subject area
Writing score: 2-12
2 scores of 200-800
per section.
Total: 400-1600
Writing score:
3 scores of 2-8
Guessing No penalty for wrong
answers
No penalty for wrong
answers
Score
history
The test taker decides
which scores are sent
to the universities
The test taker’s entire
score history is sent
(depending on
university
requirements)
Fees For testing anywhere
outside the U.S.:
$150.00 (No Writing)
$166.50 (With Writing)
For testing anywhere
in Europe:
$49.50 (No Essay) +
$47.00 Non-U.S.
Regional Fee
$64.50 (With Essay)
+ $47.00 Non-U.S.
Regional Fee
Test
sessions
7 per year in and
outside the U.S.
7 per year in the U.S.;
5 per year outside
the U.S.
Subject
Tests
Do not exist Optional: depend on
each university’s
requirements or
appreciation

SO, WHICH TEST TO TAKE?

Above all, you should ask that question to the college/university you are applying to. While most of them accept both, exceptions do exist, especially for specific undergraduate programs.

Once decided, come and talk to us at SIGHT Test Prep, and we will guide you through your entire undergraduate admissions process.