While both the SAT and the ACT are accepted by all colleges for admissions and merit based scholarships, there are many differences between the two, which should be considered when deciding on which one to take.
The SAT is offered seven times per school year: in January, March or April, May, June, October, November, and December. Scores are between 200 and 1600. It has four sections: reading, writing, non calculator math, and calculator math. There is also an optional essay that is not counted in your score.
The questions on the SAT increase in difficulty as you go on. The questions are more intricate than the ones on the ACT. Most questions are multiple choice, but both sections include questions that aren’t.
The reading section has 52 questions that are to be completed in 60 minutes. In this section, test takers read and answer questions on passages.
The writing section is 35 minutes long includes 44 questions. This section consists of correcting grammatical errors, punctuation, and sentence structure.
Test takers have 25 minutes to complete 20 math questions without a calculator, and 55 minutes to complete the other 38 math questions with the ability to use a calculator. Questions on the non calculator question are supposed to be easier to solve. Both math sections are more centered on less advanced math, but also cover algebra 2, trigonometry, and pre calc.
On the optional essay, test takers are given an argument and have to evaluate it. Test takers have 50 minutes to complete it.
The ACT is available to take six times during the school year. Test takers can choose to take it in February, April, June, September, October, or December. It consists of four sections, as well: English, math, reading, and science. The ACT has an optional essay as well. Scores from each section are scaled to a score ranging from 1 to 36.
Questions on the ACT are more straightforward than the ones on the SAT, but test takers have less time to answer them. Every question is multiple choice.
The English section has 75 questions and lasts 45 minutes. It covers grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and organization.
The math section includes 60 questions. Test takers have 60 minutes and can use a calculator for every question. It incorporates pre algebra, algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2, trigonometry, and pre calc, focusing more on the advanced levels.
The reading section takes 35 minutes and there are 40 questions. Test takers are tested on reading comprehension using reading passages, amongst other tools.
The last mandatory section is the science section. It has 35 questions that are to be completed in 25 minutes. Test takers are to view graphs and use the data to answer question on analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving.
For the optional essay, test takers are to read three arguments on the same topic, evaluate the material, and give an opinion. The time limit is 40 minutes.
The SAT tends to be easier for those who are able to decode questions with complex wording. Students who are better at reading comprehension and grammar also tend to do better on it. The SAT is also recommended for those who are better at mental math.
On the other hand, the ACT is meant for fast test takers. The wording of questions is more simpler, but the content in the English, writing, and math sections are harder. People who tend to use calculators in math should take the ACT, too.