SAT vs ACT

What to choose ?

Both the SAT and ACT examinations are widely regarded and all top colleges generally accept both the scores. This leads to a lot of confusion amongst students as to which exam should they go for. While both the exams have their pros and cons, it finally boils down to the individual and the strengths and weakness. The best course of action is to take the ACT and SAT practice tests so that you may get a better understanding of both the exams and make a decision that suits you best.

Here is a list of basic differences between the two exams.

New SAT ACT
Total Time 3 hrs (plus 50 min for essay) 2 hrs 55 min (plus 40 min for essay)
Number of sections 4 plus essay 4 plus essay
Sections Reading: 65 min
Writing and Language: 35 min
Math (No calculator): 25 min
Math (with calculator): 55 min
Optional essay: 50 min
English: 45 min
Math: 60 min
Reading: 35 min
Science: 35 min
Optional essay: 40 min
Scoring Two section scores, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (includes Reading and Writing and Language) and Math, on a 200-800 scale combined for a total score from 400-1600 Four section scores scaled from 1-36 averaged for a composite from 1-36
Wrong answer penalty? No No
Content ACT NEW SAT
Reading Reading Comprehension Reading Comprehension Words based on Context Evidence
Math Arithmetic
Algebra
Geometry
Algebra II
Trigonometry
Algebra
Data Analysis
Geometry
Trigonometry
Algebra II
Science Analysis
Interpretation
Evaluation
Basic Content
Problem Solving
No Science Section
(But Science Insight Score Provided)
Writing and Language The Essay: Writing Test
English Test: Writing & Language multiple-choice questions
Tests grammatical and rhetorical skills
Essay Optional final section
40 minutes
Not included in composite score
contemporary issues
Topic presents conversations around
Optional final section
50 minutes
Separate score
Tests Reading, Analysis, and Writing Skills
Topic comes from a 750-word passage to be read on Test Day