What is the difference between the SAT and the ACT?

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The Difference between SAT and the ACT

The SAT and ACT are two different standardized tests that students take in 11th or 12th grade in high school before entering college/university. These tests are used as a benchmark to help with college admission decisions as well as merit-based scholarships.

The SAT lasts 3 hours and 50 minutes (including essay), while the ACT lasts 3 hours 35 minutes (including writing).

The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600 while the ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36. As all colleges accept either test, the student will send the best score no matter the test.

So how to choose which test to take?

We often recommend the student initially takes each test once and compare the results. Since the SAT redesign of 2016,the SAT and the ACT cover a lot of similar topics and when preparing for one you improve your performance for the other one.

However there are a few points that may make you prefer one test over the other.

1) The timing of the ACT is very tight. 60 minutes 60 questions in math for example. Some students find this very challenging even if the questions are often simpler than on the SAT.

2) The ACT, unlike the SAT includes a science section focusing on critical knowledge skills.

3) The math section has a No Calculator section in the SAT

4) The math section of the SAT counts for 50% of the score whereas it counts for 25% of the ACT score.

5) The ACT covers some more advanced math topics and has much more geometry.

6) The SAT Reading section has questions in chronological order when they can be random in the ACT

7) The essay is analytical on the SAT based on an author’s text and opinion-based on the ACT.

Every student has different test taking strengths. The best way to evaluate the student’s performance is to do a real practice test. We organize them very regularly for free in our offices so we can decide which is the best testing strategy to adopt. The concordance table allows you to cmpare your results in each test.

You can always give us a call if you would like more information on which test is best to take and to register for our next practice test!

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