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 for a current list of test optional colleges and universities.

Test Comparison

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







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