The ACT and the SAT are admissions tests accepted by most U.S. colleges and universities; schools do not prefer one test over the other.
- ACT: 1–36 composite scale
- SAT: 400–1600 composite scale
- ACT: 2 hours and 55 minutes + 40-minute optional essay
- SAT: 3 hours
- ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes; passage-based reading comprehension
- SAT: 52 questions in 65 minutes; passage-based reading comprehension; informational graphics included
- ACT: 75 questions in 45 minutes; passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, and punctuation
- SAT: 44 questions in 35 minutes; passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, and punctuation; informational graphics included
- ACT: 60 questions in 60 minutes; can used approved calculator; all multiple choice; arithmetic, algebra I and II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry and precalculus including functions, conic sections, combinations and permutations, logarithms, and matrices
- SAT: no calculator section: 20 questions in 25 minutes (including 5 grid-in questions); calculator section: 38 questions in 55 minutes (including 8 grid-in questions); trigonometry, radians, volumes, complex numbers, congruence and similarity, simple rational expressions, higher order equations, circle-related topics; emphasis on algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics
- ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes; interpretation and application of scientific data presented in tables, pie charts, bar graphs, scatter plots, etc.
- SAT: no science section; science questions throughout the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Tests
- ACT: 40 minutes; optional; writing and composition, analysis and development of an argument; 4 scores: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions
- SAT: after the June 2021 administration, the College Board will no longer administer the SAT Essay
If you are trying to decide between preparing for the ACT or SAT, we recommend that you begin by taking a timed, full-length practice ACT and a timed, full-length practice SAT. Then compare your scores and your overall comfort level with each test. You should prepare for and take the test on which you feel that you will perform best.