SAT or ACT?

Standardized Testing

All colleges accept both the SAT and the ACT (except Sarah Lawrence College which refuses to accept any test). But the SAT and ACT are not the same. Take time to understand the differences and take the test that best suits you. Many students take both tests. The ACT may be better suited to good students who have mastered subjects, and the SAT may be better suited to academic underachievers. It’s advisable to prep for the tests. Take practice exams and study. Statistically, the second SAT test administration raises the score about 50 – 100 points. Scores tend to level off for subsequent tests.

Test Optional

There are over 700 colleges that are now standardized test optional.
Please go to www.fairtest.org for a current list of test-optional colleges and universities.

Test Comparison

 

SAT

ACT

Length

3 hours, 45 minutes

3 hours, 25 minutes (includes optional 30-minute Writing Test)

Sections

10 Sections: 3 Critical Reading, 3 Math, 3 Writing (including Essay), 1 Experimental (not scored)

4 Sections (plus optional Writing Test): English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing

Subjects

Critical Reading

Math

Writing

English

Math

Reading

Science

Writing (optional)

Reading

Reading

passages with questions pertaining to comprehension and sentence completion

4 passages, 10 questions per passage

Science

N/A

Science (analysis, knowledge, problem solving)

Math

Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and algebra II

Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry

Essay

Required

Optional (final section)

Score Composition

1/3 Math

1/3 Reading

1/3 Writing

¼ English

¼ Math

¼ Reading

¼ Science

Scoring

Aggregate score 600 – 2400 based on total of 3 scores 200- 800 (Reading, Math, Writing)

Score of 0-12 for Essay 

Composite score 1-36 based on average of 4 sections (English Math, Reading Science)

Score 0-12 for Optional Essay.

Penalties

Penalties

(typically ¼ point deducted) for wrong answers

No penalties for incorrect answers

Score Choice

Student may choose which set(s) of SAT scores to submit to colleges but submission must be consistent with college SAT score choice policy

Student decides which scores are sent

Additional Information

www.collegeboard.com

www.actstudent.org