Should You Take the ACT or SAT?

Both the ACT and the SAT are nationally administered standardized tests that help colleges evaluate candidates. All schools accept either test interchangably. So as you begin to think about college and creating the best application package possible, your admissions plan should begin with the question, "Which test should I take?"

What's the Difference Between the ACT and SAT?

Test Structure and Format

  ACT SAT
Length 3 hours, 25 min
(with Writing Test)
3 hours, 45 minutes
Structure 4 Sections
(English, Math, Reading, Science) plus an optional Writing Test
10 Sections
(3 Critical Reading, 3 Math, 3 Writing, and 1 Experimental, which is unscored)

Scoring

  ACT SAT
Score Composite of 1-36 based on average scores from the 4 test sections

4 scores of 1-36 for each test

Optional Writing Test score of 0-12 (not included in the overall score)
Total score range of 600-2400 based on adding scores from 3 subjects

3 scores of 200-800 for each subject

Score of 0-12 for the Essay
Wrong Answer Penalty No penalty for wrong answers ¼ point subtracted from your raw score for each wrong answer (except for Math Grid-Ins)
Sending Score History You decide which score is sent You decide which score is sent

*Some colleges require you to send all scores, check with the college to be sure

Content

  ACT SAT
Reading Reading Comprehension Reading Comprehension
Sentence Completions
Math Arithmetic
Algebra
Geometry
Algebra II
Trigonometry
Arithmetic
Algebra
Geometry
Algebra II
Science Analysis
Interpretation
Evaluation
Basic Content
Problem Solving
Not applicable
Essay Optional Final Section

30 Minutes

Not Included in Composite Score

Topic of importance to high school students
First Section

25 Minutes

Factored into overall score

More abstract topic

AP®, Advanced Placement Program® or Pre-AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. SAT® is a registered trademark of the College Board which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. ACT® is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc. PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation which were not involved in the production of, and do not endorse, this product.
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