SAT vs ACT: Which Test is Right for You?

Many students and parents begin the college prep process by comparing the ACT and SAT tests. The SAT and ACT generally cover the same topics. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not prefer one test over the other. Neither the SAT or ACT is harder than the other. Different students tend to do better on one test over the other.

ACT includes a Science section
SAT includes one SAT Math Section on which you may not use a calculator

 SATACT
Why Take ItColleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.
Test StructureReading
Writing & Language
Math
Essay (Optional)
English
Math
Reading
Science Reasoning
Essay (Optional)
Length3 hours (without essay)
3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)
Reading5 reading passages
4 reading passages
ScienceNone1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)
MathCovers:
Arithmetic
Algebra I & II Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis
Covers:
Arithmetic
Algebra I & II Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability & Statistics
Calculator PolicySome math questions don't allow you to use a calculator.
You can use a calculator on all math questions.
EssaysOptional. 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 ScoredScored on a scale of 400–1600
Scored on a scale of 1–36

Should I Take the ACT or SAT?

Students are increasingly taking both the SAT and ACT . It is possible to prep for both tests concurrently — and earn competitive scores on both!

The best way to decide if taking the SAT, ACT, or both tests is right for you is to take a timed full-length practice test of each type.

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