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Deciding Between the ACT and SAT

The ACT and SAT generally test for the same content and are used for college admissions and merit-based scholarships. The two differences between the tests include:

  • The ACT has a science section
  • There is only one section of math that you cannot use a calculator in the SAT.

More colleges will accept both tests. However, we strongly encourage students and parents to review admissions requirements for the colleges students plan to apply.

How do you choose?

We recommend students take a timed full-length practice test for both exams. By noting the challenges of time pressures or types of questions, students will have a better idea of which test is a best fit for them.

Get to know the tests:

ACT SAT
Components English
Math
Reading
Science
Writing (optional)
Writing and Language
Math
Reading
Essay (optional)
Time 2 hours, 55 minutes
Plus an additional 40 minutes for optional Writing component
3 hours
Plus an additional 50 minutes for optional Essay component
Number of Questions 215 154
Score Range 1-36 400-1600
Guessing No penalty No penalty
Official Website ACT Website SAT Website