Testing Resources

College Entrance Exams: ACT vs. SAT

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

  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • Essay (Optional)

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science Reasoning
  • Essay (Optional)

Length

  • 3 hours (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)

  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

Reading

5 reading passages

4 reading passages

Science

None

1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)

Math

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

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability & Statistics

Calculator Policy

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

Scored on a scale of 1–36

Why Take It

SAT

ACT

Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.

Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.

Test Structure

SAT

ACT

  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • Essay (Optional)
  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science Reasoning
  • Essay (Optional)

Length

SAT

ACT

  • 3 hours (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

Reading

SAT

ACT

5 reading passages

4 reading passages

Science

SAT

ACT

None

1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)

Math

SAT

ACT

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability & Statistics

Calculator Policy

SAT

ACT

Some math questions don’t allow you to use a calculator.

You can use a calculator on all math questions.

Essays

SAT

ACT

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

SAT

ACT

Scored on a scale of 400–1600

Scored on a scale of 1–36

What is SUPERSCORING and Why Should I Care?

Superscoring is the process by which colleges consider your highest section scores across all the dates you took the ACT or SAT. Rather than confining your scores to one particular date, these schools will take your highest section scores, forming the highest possible composite score.

Schools which Superscore will give some students a better chance at admission overall.

Test Anxiety: Crash Course Study Skills

ACT/SAT Prep Resources

There are tons of free prep sites available. When using a fee waiver to register for the ACT, all students receive the www.actstudent.org test prep for free (a huge value).

College Entrance Exams: ACT vs. SAT

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

  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • Essay (Optional)

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science Reasoning
  • Essay (Optional)

Length

  • 3 hours (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)

  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

Reading

5 reading passages

4 reading passages

Science

None

1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)

Math

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

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability & Statistics

Calculator Policy

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

Scored on a scale of 1–36

Why Take It

SAT

ACT

Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.

Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.

Test Structure

SAT

ACT

  • Reading
  • Writing & Language
  • Math
  • Essay (Optional)
  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science Reasoning
  • Essay (Optional)

Length

SAT

ACT

  • 3 hours (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

Reading

SAT

ACT

5 reading passages

4 reading passages

Science

SAT

ACT

None

1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)

Math

SAT

ACT

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability & Statistics

Calculator Policy

SAT

ACT

Some math questions don’t allow you to use a calculator.

You can use a calculator on all math questions.

Essays

SAT

ACT

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

SAT

ACT

Scored on a scale of 400–1600

Scored on a scale of 1–36

What is SUPERSCORING and Why Should I Care?

Superscoring is the process by which colleges consider your highest section scores across all the dates you took the ACT or SAT. Rather than confining your scores to one particular date, these schools will take your highest section scores, forming the highest possible composite score.

Schools which Superscore will give some students a better chance at admission overall.

Test Anxiety: Crash Course Study Skills

ACT/SAT Prep Resources

There are tons of free prep sites available. When using a fee waiver to register for the ACT, all students receive the www.actstudent.org test prep for free (a huge value).