Difference Between ACT and SAT

By: | Updated: Feb-19, 2022
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High school students are probably familiar with both ACT and SAT. These are two of the most popular college admissions tests.

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the ACT and SAT. We hope that this will help students decide which test to take.

ACT SAT
National test. National test with a regional focus.
Has more math questions. Has more reading questions.
Is more focused on science. Is more focused on logic and reasoning.
More expensive to take. Less expensive to take.
Consists of four tests. Consists of three tests.
Shorter duration. Longer duration.
In September, October, December, February, and April. In March, May, June, and October.

Difference Between ACT and SAT

The ACT and SAT are both college entrance exams that assess a student’s readiness for college. The ACT is a national test, while the SAT is a national test with a regional focus.

The ACT has more math questions, while the SAT has more reading questions. The ACT is more focused on science, while the SAT is more focused on logic and reasoning. The ACT is also more expensive to take.

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Students typically take one or the other of these exams, depending on their strengths and weaknesses. The ACT is more popular in the Midwest and the South, while the SAT is more popular on the East and West Coasts.

The ACT consists of four multiple choice tests: English, math, reading, and science. There is also an optional writing test, which is only offered on the ACT.

Questions on the English test ask students to read passages and identify errors in grammar, usage, and punctuation. The math test covers basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

The reading test asks students to read passages and answer questions about the content. The science test asks students to answer questions about scientific concepts and principles.

While the SAT has three sections: reading, writing, and math, it also has an optional essay. Questions on the reading test ask students to read passages and answer questions about the content.

Questions on the writing test ask students to write essays about a given topic. Questions on the math test cover basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

ACT is taken in pencil and paper format, while the SAT can be taken in pencil and paper format or on a computer. For students who are unsure which test to take, the College Board offers a free online tool that can help students determine which test is a better fit for them.

Results of SAT and ACT are also used for scholarship decisions. Other countries such as the United Kingdom also use these exams as part of the university application process.

The duration of the ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes, including the optional writing test. The duration of the SAT is 3 hours, including the optional essay.

Date of ACT is usually in September, October, December, February, and April. The date of the SAT is usually in March, May, June, and October.

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