SAT vs ACT? What are they and how are they different?

The SAT and ACT are aptitude tests designed to predict the ability of each applicant to succeed in a college program. Many schools will accept scores from either test, however there are some that will only accept the SAT. Be sure to check with your schools of interest to find out what tests they accept. When in doubt, it is a good idea to take the SAT test.

Regardless of which standardized test you take, it can be a long and exhausting day. Preparing to take the test is critical as there are specific strategies that test takers can use to help achieve a higher score.

There are significant differences between the two tests. Read below for an overview of each test.


The SAT takes 3 hours 45 minutes and is broken down in to 3 sections: Critical Reading (Read passages then answer questions), Math (arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and algebra II), and Writing (essay). The test is scored out of 2400 with 800 possible points for each section.

Some schools will only look at the Critical Reading and Math sections when evaluating your application for admissions. You should consider taking it more than once as you can use your best score. You can also combine the best scores from each section. So, if you write the SAT twice, you can use the best score from each section, even if you wrote the test at different times.

Find out more information and register for the SAT.


The ACT takes 3 hours 25 minutes with an optional 30-minute writing test. There are four sections: English (Passages), Math (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry), Reading, Science (analysis, knowledge, problem solving), and Writing (essay optional). The test is scored from 1-36 based on average of 4 sections and 0-12 for optional essay.

Find out more information and register for the ACT.

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