A comparison of the ACT and SAT
To make an informed decision about which test to take, utilize this resource to obtain a comprehensive understanding of what to expect from either the SAT or ACT. The document contains a plethora of test-specific information, as well as frequently asked questions that test-takers should consider. As you prepare for college and contemplate your testing options, it is crucial to be well-prepared to make a well-informed decision about your future.
Comparison between SAT and ACT: Test Differences
Colleges and educational institutions utilize standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT to evaluate your preparedness for college-level academic work. At first glance, these two exams may appear quite similar, covering fundamental topics like reading, writing, comprehension, problem-solving, and math, and taking roughly the same amount of time to complete (around 3 hours and 35 minutes for the ACT and approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes for the SAT). While the two exams used to be more distinct from each other, the SAT underwent significant restructuring and redesign in 2016, resulting in a format that now closely resembles that of the ACT.
Since all US colleges and universities accept both the ACT and SAT, there is no obvious advantage to taking one over the other. Nonetheless, there are a few unforeseen differences that may impact your decision. Below is a list of the primary distinctions:
Timer per Section
The most significant difference between the two tests is the amount of time given for each section. The SAT provides test-takers with more time to answer each question in all areas of the test, while the ACT expects participants to answer questions more rapidly. Additionally, the ACT features a greater number of questions than the SAT, though SAT questions may require lengthier reading and problem-solving sessions, resulting in a slightly longer completion time.
The grading is also very different between the two exams: the SAT awards a total score between 400 and 1600 points, whereas the ACT awards a score based on the average of each section on a range of 1-36.
Sections devoted to mathematics and science
Both exams contain sections that focus on science and math, with the science portion being a distinguishing feature of the ACT. The SAT has two math sections, one with and one without a calculator, while the ACT has one math and one science section. Additionally, both tests include sections dedicated to reading and writing (referred to as “English” in the ACT).
Of particular note are the math sections of both exams, which heavily emphasize algebra. However, the ACT places a greater emphasis on geometry and trigonometry than the SAT and allows for calculators throughout the entire test, while the SAT has one math section that prohibits calculator use.
The SAT includes a little reference guide for several fundamental mathematical formulas and diagrams, while the ACT does not. Some students may find this helpful if they have trouble remembering formulas. However, the SAT math score accounts for around 50% of the total exam score, while the ACT’s math section only accounts for about a quarter of the total score. As a result, while the SAT may serve as a useful reference tool, it may not be the ideal test to take if you struggle with mathematics.
Concerns with the Command of Evidence
The structure of the questions on the two tests also differs significantly from one another. Each question on the SAT’s special reading subsection, which asks you to provide evidence to back your answers, is arranged chronologically with the material it is referring. The questions on the ACT, however, are listed at random in accordance with the paragraph they refer to and do not contain a portion with questions with evidence.
Essay or writing assignment that is optional
The SAT and ACT both include an optional essay or writing assignment. However, each test requests a unique strategy for answering the provided question. You will be given a writing prompt for the SAT, and you will be required to analyze the topic without expressing a viewpoint. It is a fact-based or objective task. However, the ACT will provide a prompt that also requests your opinion on the subject.
Timing and Length of the Test
The ACT, also known as American College Testing, is a standardized test that assesses a student’s critical thinking abilities and comprehension in order to predict how well-prepared they would be for college-level coursework. This test, which was initially developed in 1959 but has undergone some adjustments, will soon be accessible online. An identical non-profit organization in the US created and administers the test (ACT).
Sections and Question Quantity
The ACT is divided into the following portions, which are presented in chronological sequence, with the corresponding number of questions in each area. Every question is a multiple-choice one (with the exception of the optional writing section).
75 questions in English
60 questions in math
Read: 40 inquiries
40 questions in science
Writing: 1 essay (optional).
What Does My ACT Score Indicate?
The ACT uses a scale of 1-36 for each section to get the final score. The average of the points from the four sections, which will range from 1-36, will then be used to calculate your final score.
The writing component of the exam is graded on a scale of 2 to 12, according to an analytical scoring rubric, and it does not affect your exam’s overall mark.
Here is an illustration of how the ACT could be graded:
Final result: 26
10 written (optional)