SAT or ACT?

Standardized Testing

All colleges accept both the SAT and the ACT.   Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions and merit-based scholarships. The biggest differences between the tests are that the ACT has a Science Test, and there’s one SAT Math Section for which you cannot use a calculator.  Most colleges don't prefer one test over the other.   The revised SAT went effect in March of 2016 and as a result is more similar to the ACT.  Take time to understand the differences and take the test that best suits you.  Many students take both tests.   It’s highly 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, 50 minutes  (includes optional Essay)

3 hours, 35 minutes (includes optional Writing Test)

Sections

4 Sections: 
Reading
Writing & Language
Math (no calculator)
Math (calculator)
*Plus Optional Essay

4 Sections: 
English
Math (calculator allowed for all questions)
Reading
Science
*Plus Optional Writing Test

Subjects

Critical Reading

Math

Writing
Essay (optional)

English

Math

Reading

Science

Writing (optional)

Reading

Command of Evidence

Words in Context 
Analysis in History/Social Studies/Science

Key Ideas and Details
Craft and Structure
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Science

None

 Tests critical thinking skills, not specific science knowledge
Interpretation of Data
Scientific Investigation
Evaluation of Models, Inferences, and Experimental Results

Math

Arithmetic

Algebra I & II

Geometry, Trigonometry & Data Analysis

Arithmetic

Algebra I & II

Geometry and Trigonometry

Essay

Optional 40 minute testing time
The essay tests comprehension of a source text

Optional 50 minute testing time
The essay tests how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues.

Scoring

Composite score on a scale of 400–1600
Score is calculated by adding your score on the Math section with your score on the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing section (each section is scored on a 200–800 scale).
The optional Essay is not included in the overall score.

Composite score on a scale of 1–36
This score is an average of your scores on the 4 multiple-choice test sections (each section is scored on 1–36 scale).
The optional Writing Test is not included in the composite score.

Penalties

No penalty for incorrect answers

No penalty for incorrect answers

Score Choice

Student decides which scores are sent

Student decides which scores are sent

Additional Information

www.collegeboard.com

www.actstudent.org