ACT or SAT?
Which test should you take?
In the past, the ACT was traditionally required by colleges in the midwest, and the SAT was traditionally required by colleges in the northeast and on the east and west coasts. Now, the majority of schools in the United States accept both SAT and ACT test results.
What’s the Difference?
- ACT includes a science reasoning test; SAT does not
- ACT math section includes trigonometry
- SAT tests more vocabulary than ACT
- SAT is not entirely multiple choice
- SAT has a penalty for guessing; ACT does not
- ACT tests English grammar; SAT does not
Brief Descriptions of the Tests
- Designed to test your skills in English, math, reading, and science reasoning
- Divided into 4 sections (1 per subject area)
- 215 questions, plus optional essay
- Actual testing time is 3 hours and 25 minutes*
- Scored in 12 separate scores: 1 composite, 4 subject scores, and 7 subscores
- The writing test is not required for most colleges
- Scaled score is the most important and ranges from 1-36
- Nearly half of all test takers fall in the 17-23 range
- Designed to test your skills in math, vocabulary, and reading comprehension
- Divided into 7 sections: 3 math, 3 verbal, 1 experimental
- 140 questions, plus required essay
- Actual testing time is 3 hours and 45 minutes*
- Scored on a scale of 200-800 for the math and verbal sections
- The writing essay is required and is factored into your writing score
- College Board sets the average for all test takers at 500 for each; perfect score on the SAT is 1600
*Total test time is longer for both because of breaks.
You should check with your target school(s) to see if one test is preferred or recommended over the other.
This information was collected and compiled from the following websites: