You are currently viewing ACT Vs. SAT: Which Should You Take?

Many students are struggling to decide between SAT as well as the ACT. Find out the two tests major differences and advice on which exam you should choose.

  • A lot of U.S. colleges and universities require applicants to provide SAT as well as ACT scores.
  • The key differences between these two tests are the their timings, the content as well as the scoring.
  • As opposed to the SAT unlike the SAT, unlike the SAT, ACT includes an Science section as well as an essay option.
  • Students may take both tests, but you’ll generally see more success if you stick to just one.

“Should I take the SAT or ACT?” — it’s a common question many high school students ask themselves as they inch closer to college application season.

All four-year institutions and colleges within the U.S. that use standardized test scores to determine admissions will accept SAT as well as ACT scores. Both exams cover similar subjects, like reading comprehension, math along with English grammar.

If you’re not applying to schools that allow test-optional applications You’ll probably have be taking either the SAT and ACT. What test is the best one to choose?

To assist you in answering this question, we’ve given an outline of the 13 most important variations between ACT and SAT and SAT, as well as suggestions on how to determine which test might be the best fit for you.

13 Major Differences Between the ACT and SAT

While both the SAT and ACT cover a lot aspects of similar topics, and use similar format However, the two tests differ in a few key areas to keep an eye on.

1. Timing and Number of Questions

The SAT and ACT each take about an hour to finish. However, each exam has distinct sections and limits on time and some sections offer more time for each test than others.

Here’s a summary of the timing differences between these two test:

Reading52 questions, 65 minutes(75 seconds/question)40 questions, 35 minutes(53 seconds/question)
Writing and Language / English44 questions, 35 minutes(48 seconds/question)75 questions, 45 minutes(36 seconds/question)
Math (Calculator Permitted)38 questions, 55 minutes(87 seconds/question)60 questions, 60 minutes(60 seconds/question)
Math (No Calculator)20 questions, 25 minutes(75 seconds/question)
Science40 questions, 35 minutes(53 seconds/question)
Essay (Optional)1 prompt, 40 minutes
TOTAL154 questions, 3 hours215 questions + 1 essay2 hours 55 mins without essay3 hours and 35 minutes essay

Overall it is estimated that the SAT offers an average of 70 minutes for each question, which is compared to the ACT’s 48 seconds. You should consider whether you require more time for each section.

For instance, if you are struggling to comprehend the speed at which you read it is possible to choose the SAT because it offers approximately 20 seconds more time per Reading test over what an ACT does (though the latter also includes additional 12 Reading tests).

2. Scoring

The SAT and ACT have their own scoring system, as illustrated below:

SAT Score Range

  • Total: 400-1600
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 200-800
  • Math: 200-800

ACT Score Range

  • Composite: 1-36
  • English: 1-36
  • Math: 1-36
  • Reading: 1-36
  • Science: 1-36
  • Writing (Optional): 2-12

For the SAT Your total score from 1600 is the total of both your Math and evidence-based Reading as well as Writing score (the latter is a blend of your scores from the Reading section as well as Writing and Language section). Writing as well as the Language portion).

For the ACT the ACT, you’ll get a composite score of 36 is the sum – not the averagenot the total of your scores in the four sections in English, Math, Reading and Science. An optional essay can also be evaluated independently.

This means that your Math score will be just one-fourth of the final ACT score, but only 50% of your total SAT score. If you have trouble with math you may find that the ACT could be the better choice for you.

3. Cost

As of June 2022 in June 2022, the SAT is priced at $60 and the ACT costs a little higher with a price of $63. The ACT with an optional essay is priced at $88.

Both exams have fee waivers to students who meet the criteria. If you qualify for the SAT cost waiver you’ll be able take two SAT tests for no cost and not have to pay fees for late tests. You’ll also receive unlimited score reports that you can submit for colleges.

The ACT fee reduction offers similar benefits, such as four no-cost ACT tests and unlimited score reports. reduced application fees for participating schools, as well as access to a free ACT online course for preparation.

4. No-Calculator Math Section

In contrast to the ACT however, unlike the ACT, SAT is divided by dividing the Math sections into two parts where you can utilize a calculator, and another where you are not allowed to make use of calculators.

It is the Math (No Calculator) test is conducted prior to taking the Math (Calculator) test and comprises 20 questions. It will take you 25 minutes, or approximately 75 seconds per question to complete these questions with scratch paper.

The entire ACT Math section allows you to make use of a calculator (though you don’t need to). If you’re unsure of your abilities to tackle math problems with your hands and you’re not sure if you can, the ACT might be better suited to you.

5. Math Reference Guide

While the ACT permits students to use calculators in every Math test, you will not be provided with any formulas for the day of test. The SAT is slightly more flexible in this respect.

When you take the SAT test, you’ll receive an instruction guide at the start in both Math (No Calculator) and Math (Calculator) sections and you’ll be able to use it throughout the exam. This guide has a wide range of math-related formulas, most notably for geometry questions that comprise less than 10 percent of SAT Math questions.

This reference book will ensure that there’s no stress to learn basic math formulas for the SAT as there is in the ACT.

6. Student-Produced Response Math Questions (Grid-Ins)

Another distinction between the SAT or ACT Math section is the fact that, whereas Math problems on ACT are all multiple-choice while the SAT comprises around 13 students-produced responses or grid-ins.

To solve these issues it is your responsibility to figure out the solutions yourself, and record them through bubbling the appropriate numbers.

7. Breadth of Math Topics

Both exams cover the same math subjects and have a strong focus on algebra. However, the ACT is more focused on higher-level math concepts, including trigonometry and logarithms as well as the matrices.

8. Number of Answer Choices on Math

ACT Math questions have five answer options, whereas SAT Math questions have four. That means that you’ll have a slight higher likelihood of selecting the correct option when you take SAT Math than you will on ACT Math (a 25% probability of guessing right versus 20 percent chance).

9. Science Section

Contrary to the SAT unlike the SAT, unlike the SAT, ACT has a separate Science section that counts for one-fourth of your total ACT score.

If you want to do well in how to do well in the Science portion, students need to be able to comprehend the meaning of experimental results and hypotheses, and also how to assess scientific models.

Although the SAT does not have an additional Science section, a lot of its questions refer to experiments in science and require an knowledge of how to interpret data from scientific research. These types of questions, which can be included in the majority of SAT sections, form your Analyzing of Science test score..

10. Evidence Questions

Both SAT Reading and Writing sections contain evidence-based questions and the ACT does not.

In this case your answer will be based on the response to the question that precedes it. That is you’ll need to present “evidence” from the reading passage to demonstrate what you learned from answers to your prior question. In most cases, you’ll be asked to find a particular section of the reading that you draw your conclusion.

11. Chronological Reading Questions

In the SAT, Reading questions generally appear chronologically, i.e they are presented in the same order the way that ideas are described throughout the essay.

However, this is not the case with the ACT. For it, the ACT, Reading questions, although sometimes chronological, often do not have a clear sequence and may be applicable to any section or section of the text. This can confuse test takers and make it more difficult for them to respond quickly to questions.

12. Historical Documents and Older Reading Passages

When you take the SAT prepare to encounter a few older reading passages that date back to the 20th century, or in the early 20th century. In the Reading section, you’ll receive at least one document from the past that is difficult to comprehend. Additionally the passage of literature typically comes from an earlier piece of fiction.

ACT reading questions, in contrast, are generally modern, and often written in the past couple of years. Test-takers who have trouble understanding older languages might prefer to take the ACT in comparison to the SAT.

13. Optional Essay

In the beginning, both SAT and ACT had an optional essay section that demanded you to write an original essay on a specific passage. In summer 2021, however the SAT has ceased to offer an essay option.

If you’re planning to compose an essay your sole alternative is taking the ACT. (Note however that certain schools that participate with SAT school Day have a requirement that students complete an SAT Writing Test.)

The ACT Writing section of the ACT comprises one essay prompt which outlines the issue. Three perspectives are offered on the issue. You’ll be given 40 minutes to compose a response that describes your own view.

ACT Writing is scored on a scale of 2-12. It is not a factor in the composite ACT score of 36.

Should You Take the SAT or ACT?

Are your preferred option the ACT or SAT more suitable for you? Here are a few reasons why to consider for the SAT rather than the ACT or vice versa.

3 Reasons to Take the SAT

  • You’re confident in your math Skills: If you’re feeling confident in solving math problems without the aid of a calculator, and you don’t have to record your answers in pencil, the SAT will likely be more suitable for you. Keep in mind you’ll need to remember that the Math section accounts for half the SAT score and if you score very well in this section, you can expect a massive improvement in your score.
  • You’d like to have more time per Question: Each SAT section gives you longer time to answer questions than ACT. When you think more slowly and would like more time to draw on in the event you get stuck then the SAT might be the better choice for you.
  • If you’re not a fan of Science The absence of a Science part on the SAT means that you do not have to be concerned about the separate Science score, which could affect your score.

Can You Take Both the SAT and ACT?

A few students might consider taking the SAT or ACT -which you definitely can do so if you want to do this However, it’s recommended to not do this.

In addition, you’ll need to prepare for two distinct examinations each with distinct structure along with its own content, structure, and question. This can make the preparation extremely confusing, and cause you to learn incorrectly or work using the wrong time limit.

You’ll also need to commit more time studying as well as take more tests, and work on more subjects than in the case of trying to prepare for SAT and ACT.

The final and best option is to stay to one test. If you fail on the first try it is possible to attempt the test a second or even a third time. Actually you’re more likely to achieve higher scores in the event you take a retake of tests like the ACT or SAT because you’ve learned more and are comfortable with the test.

If you’re still struggling determine whether you should test for test on the SAT or ACT you might want to take an entire SAT assessment as well as an ACT test to determine which you do better on, and feel more confident taking.