SAT and ACT tests are very similar, and it can be quite confusing knowing which to choose. Which is better, which helps more, which is more highly regarded?

The answer lies in your own personal preference. Nobody can tell you what you should and should not do, but here is a table to help clear some misconceptions.

SAT Similarities ACT
–       3 hours without essay, 4 hours with essay.

–       Score range of 400-1600

–       Accepted by US colleges

–       Core sections (Reading, Writing, Math) + subject tests

–       Optional essay section

–       No penalties for wrong answers

–       3 hours without essay, 3 and a half hours with essay

–       Composite score, 1-36

I’d like to talk a little bit more about the scoring. ACT’s are scored on a range of 1-36, which is the average of all your test scores together. Basically, you’ll get a score for each section which will be added together to find the average. The average will fall somewhere on a scale of 1-36, with rounding up.

SAT’s are scored on a range of 400-1600. This grading system is a little bit more complex. Reading and Writing are joined and scored out of 800 and so is Math. The totals from each will add up to your final score.


The prices of the tests don’t differ much. The SAT does tend to be a bit cheaper than the ACT but not by more than a dollar or two for students inside the US. For International students it can cost anywhere from 3 dollars than to 5 dollars more than the ACT.

ACT might be a good option for you if:

–       You are a fast reader

–       You need a calculator to do math problems

–       You have a talent for interpreting data and graphs

SAT might be easier for you if:

–       You have a high comprehension level, even if you’re not very fast

–       Can solve trick questions

–       Are good at mental math

I would not recommend doing both tests. Doing so would just be taking time away from studying for one test to study for another test that is essentially the same. If you are in a system like mine, where SAT’s are required for graduation, you might not even need to bother with ACT’s unless your university of choice requires them, which is unlikely.


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