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SAT or ACT?

Our guide to help you decide whether the SAT or ACT are best suited to your abilities.

Introduction

It’s important to note that US Colleges accept BOTH the SAT and ACT on equal footing. The key is to choose the one that is a best fit – most students have a  preference for one over the other. Please contact us to discuss what would be best for you or your child.

Which should you choose?

The short answer -- whichever test suits you best. After trying both tests, whichever one you score significantly higher on will be your test. You can sign up for free diagnostic tests for both the ACT and SAT from our free resources page.  If scores are similar, then go with which test you prefer -- all my students have a preference!

Find out more!

Read our article from the July 2015 issue of The American.

The Differences

Fundamentally, the ACT covers more material but presents it in a more straightforward manner. While the SAT covers less but is harder to interpret.Below is a list of the major differences between the two tests.

Timing

ACT is fast | 2 hours 55 minutes. Requires quick mental processing

  • English | 45 minutes / 75 questions
  • Math | 60 minutes / 60 questions
  • Reading | 35 minutes / 40 questions
  • Science | 35 minutes / 40 questions

SAT is long | 3 hours

  • Reading | 65 minutes / 52 questions
  • Writing and Language | 35 minutes / 44 questions
  • Math -- No Calculator | 25 minutes/ 20 questions
  • Math -- Calculator | 55 minutes / 38 questions

Science

ACT has a 'Science' section

  • It does not require knowledge of specific scientific facts.
  • Students are merely asked to analyse and evaluate graphs, tables and charts of scientific data.

SAT has no science based content but has a NO CALCULATOR Math section

Content

ACT presents some more complex math
SAT has a greater emphasis on evidence-based reading and multi-step, 'real world' math problems.

Essay

ACT essay is optional

  • Single essay question | 40 minutes

SAT essay is optional

  • Single essay question | 50 minutes

Penalty

ACT has no penalty for wrong answers
SAT has no penalty for wrong answers

Scoring

SAT

  • Math -- 200-800 / Evidence-based Reading and Writing 200-800 for a combined total 400-1600
  • Essay is scored from 0-12 (factored into total Writing score)

ACT

  • Scored individual sections 1-36 with a composite score that equals the average score from all sections