SAT vs. ACT

  SAT ACT
Scoring Score is out of 1600
-800 for Math
-800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
Score is out of 36
-Overall composite score out of 36 (average of 4 section scores)
-Score out of 36 for each section (English, Math, Reading, Science)
Sections -Reading (65 minutes)
-Writing and Language (35 minutes)
-Math without calculator (25 minutes)
-Math with calculator (55 minutes)
-Essay test (optional) (50 minutes)

Total Time: 3 hours plus 50-minute optional essay
-Total # of questions: 154
-Time per question: 70 seconds

-English (45 minutes)
-Math (60 minutes)
-Reading (35 minutes)
-Science (35 minutes)
-Essay test (optional) (40 minutes)

Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes plus 40-minute optional essay
-Total # of questions: 215
-Time per question: 49 seconds

Which test(s) should I take?

There are two primary factors to consider:

  • What tests are required for the schools I will apply to in the fall?
  • If my schools will take either the SAT or ACT, which test will I score higher on?

Take practice tests and see how you perform!

  • Students applying to schools that will accept either the SAT or ACT should take a practice test for each and compare their practice SAT and ACT scores.
  • An official practice test is available on both the SAT and ACT sites.
  • Students should take practice tests using official time limits to get a sense for any pacing issues.
  • Practice tests should be taken with any special accommodations that the student expects to qualify for on the official test. Learn about SAT accommodations and ACT accommodations.
  • Use the practice test scores to help you determine which test to prep for, and focus your energy on that test.

SAT vs. ACT: Which is best for me?

The best way to choose is to take a practice test for both the ACT and SAT.

Other deciding factors:

  • SAT content tends to be more difficult, but more time can be devoted to each question.
  • ACT content is easier and more direct, but less time is given per question.
  • ACT science section is the most unique section. It doesn’t really test science and mainly focuses on charts, graphs, tables and figures.

Additional Resources:
FAQs for SAT and ACT
Calculate your Colorado Admissions Index Score
SAT Test Dates
ACT Test Dates