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The Similarities and Differences Between The SAT and ACT

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

As a high school student, you are probably thinking about your future and how to get into a good college. One of the most important factors in the college admissions process is your test scores, and you may be wondering whether colleges prefer the SAT® or ACT®. In this post, we'll go over what sets these tests apart and help you decide which one is right for you. Whether you're strong in reading and writing or math and science, we've got you covered. So let's dive in!

What Are The Differences between The SAT and ACT?

The SAT and ACT are two of the most popular standardized tests in the United States. The SAT is used by colleges to measure students' abilities and knowledge in reading, writing, and math. The ACT, on the other hand, measures your skills in four areas: English, reading, science (or math) and English composition. Both tests have been around for decades and are used by most colleges. However, there are some key differences between the two tests:

  1. Content: The SAT focuses on reading, writing, and math, while the ACT includes science as well as reading, writing, and math. The SAT also includes an optional essay, which is not included in the ACT.

  2. Format and timing: The SAT is a longer test than the ACT, with a total testing time of 3 hours and 50 minutes (with the optional essay). The ACT is shorter, with a total testing time of 2 hours and 55 minutes. The SAT is divided into two sections: the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section. The ACT is divided into four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science.

  3. Scoring: The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600, with a composite score calculated by adding the scores from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, with a composite score calculated by averaging the scores from the four sections.

  4. Costs: The cost of taking the SAT or ACT varies depending on where you live and whether you are taking the test with or without the optional essay. In general, the SAT is more expensive than the ACT.

It's important to research the admissions policies of the schools you are interested in attending to determine which test they prefer. Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose the test that aligns best with your strengths and abilities and to do your best on the test you choose to take.

What Are The Similarities Between the SAT and ACT?

Although there are many unique points to each test, there are several similarities between the SAT and ACT:

  • Both tests are widely accepted by colleges and universities in the United States as part of the admissions process.

  • Both tests are standardized tests that measure your academic skills and knowledge.

  • Both tests are offered on multiple dates throughout the year at designated testing centers.

  • Both tests require registration in advance and have deadlines for registration and test dates.

  • Both tests offer accommodations for students with disabilities, such as extended time or use of a computer.

  • Both tests offer a fee waiver for low-income students.

  • Both tests have a fee for taking the test and an additional fee for sending your scores to colleges.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose the test that aligns best with your strengths and abilities and to do your best on the test you choose to take.

Which Test Do Colleges Prefer?

Both the SAT and ACT are widely accepted by colleges and universities in the United States. In fact, most colleges and universities accept scores from both tests. That being said, some colleges may have a preference for one test over the other. It's important to research the admissions policies of the schools you are interested in attending to determine which test they prefer.

For example, some colleges may prefer the SAT because they believe it aligns more closely with the curriculum taught in high school. Other colleges may prefer the ACT because it includes a science section and they place a greater emphasis on that subject.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose the test that aligns best with your strengths and abilities and to do your best on the test you choose to take. It's also a good idea to consider the test requirements for the specific colleges and universities you are interested in attending to ensure you meet their admissions requirements.

FAQs about the SAT and ACT

Here are some frequently asked questions about the SAT and ACT:

How are the SAT and ACT different?

The SAT focuses on reading, writing, and math, while the ACT includes science as well as reading, writing, and math. The SAT also includes an optional essay, which is not included in the ACT. The SAT is a longer test than the ACT, with a total testing time of 3 hours and 50 minutes (with the optional essay). The ACT is shorter, with a total testing time of 2 hours and 55 minutes. The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600, while the ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36.

Can I take both the SAT and ACT?

Which test is easier, the SAT or ACT?

Are the SAT and ACT accepted by all colleges and universities?

How much does it cost to take the SAT or ACT?

Can I get accommodations for the SAT or ACT if I have a disability?

Is there a fee waiver available for low-income students taking the SAT or ACT?

How do I register for the SAT or ACT?

Don't let the stress of these exams weigh you down. Contact us today to learn more about our online tutoring services and take the first step towards test success.

Additional Resources

SAT Resources

ACT Resources


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