SAT vs. ACT

SAT or ACT? Do you know which test is right for you?

Colleges accept both tests equally, so the choice is up to you! Here’s what you need to know to compare the exams.

SAT Quick Facts

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
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Writing and Language
  • Essay (Optional)
  • Math
  • Reading
  • English
  • Science
  • Essay (Optional)
Length
  • 3 hours (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without writing test)
  • 3 hours, 35 minutes (with writing  test)
Reading 5 reading passages 4 reading passages
Science None 1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)
Math Covers:

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

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry and Trigonometry
Tools 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 analyze complex issues.
How It’s Scored Scored on a scale of 400–1600
(Essay scored 2 – 8)
Scored on a scale of 1–36
(Writing rest scored 2 – 12)

Need help deciding between the ACT vs SAT? Try a free practice test for each and see how you score!

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