Table of Contents
- What is SAT exam?
- What is ACT exam?
- ACT vs SAT: What is the difference?
- ACT vs SAT exam: the test structure
- ACT exam vs SAT: How are they scored?
- ACT vs SAT: Exam registration fee
- ACT vs SAT: Which exam should you take?
If pursuing a bachelor’s degree from abroad is your dream and you are thinking about taking either SAT or ACT exam, this will be an insightful read. What to choose between the ACT vs SAT is something that you need to analyze. This includes looking at various factors before deciding on which exam to take.
Let us begin by learning a bit about both the exams and considering the differences between the two.
What is SAT exam?
‘Scholastic Assessment test’ or ‘Scholastic Aptitude Test,’ most commonly known as SAT exam, is a standardized test mainly used for college admissions in the United States and Canada.
The College Board develops and conducts the SAT exam. It is a 3-hour long exam, which assesses students on diverse parameters. Like writing skills, critical reading and mathematics, and reasoning.
The wide popularity of the SAT exam has steadily increased over the decades. Nearly 2.2 million high school graduates have appeared for the SAT exam in 2020.
Now that you have an idea of what the SAT exam is, it is time to get some insights into the ACT exam. You can begin your test preparation the right way once you know about both tests.
What is ACT exam?
American College Testing, popularly known as the ACT, is an online/ paper-based exam centered around college and universities admission applications in the United States. The ACT exam was introduced in 1959 with the primary purpose of providing colleges with one common data point to test the candidates.
Besides the ACT exam scores, the college admission officers also evaluate other parameters before selecting a student. These include high school GPA, letters of recommendation, courses in school, SOPs, etc.
Still wondering what is ACT and how many students take it? Well, Over 1.67 million high school graduates appeared for the ACT exam in 2020. The number is only increasing with each passing year.
Now let’s look at some differences to understand the tests better.
ACT vs SAT: What is the difference?
This table will provide an overview of certain aspects on which ACT and SAT differ.
|ACT exam||SAT exam|
|Test Duration||3 hours and 40 minutes (with essay)|
2 hours and 55 minutes (without essay)
Writing: Essay (Optional)
Writing and Language
|Score Range||The score range lies between 1-36.||The score range lies between 400-1600.|
|When to register?||Around five-six weeks before the exam date.||Around 4 weeks before the date of the exam.|
|Administrators||Administered by the nonprofit ACT.||Administered by the College Board.|
|Use of Calculator||You can use a calculator to solve all the math questions.||Some math questions won’t allow you to use a calculator.|
|Number of questions||English: 75|
Writing (Optional essay): 1
Writing & Language: 44
Math (with a calculator): 38
Math (without a calculator): 20
|Exam registration fee||$60 (without writing)|
$85 (with writing)
You must have realized that there is a world of difference between the ACT exam and the SAT. However, there are some noticeable factors that you need to keep in mind while selecting which test to take and beginning your exam preparation.
Have a look at some of these factors below…
ACT vs SAT exam: the test structure
The test structures for the ACT and the SAT exams differ in several ways and you should consider this while choosing to take one of the two exams. Let’s go over this in detail.
ACT test structure
The ACT exam consists of MCQ questions and evaluates students in 5 major areas:
- Writing (optional essay)
The English section includes five passages and 75 questions with a duration of 45 minutes. The ACT English section tests skills, such as sentence structure, punctuations, usage, grammar, cohesion, etc.
ACT Math section consists of 60 questions that you need to answer in 60 minutes. You will find questions on pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, trigonometry, and geometry.
The Reading section consists of four passages (10 questions each) with a duration of 35 minutes. The passages are mainly from 4 genres: prose, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.
The ACT science section contains 40 questions that you need to complete in 35 minutes. The questions are reasoning-based on some science-related passages.
Last but not least, the optional writing section consists of an essay task with a time limit of 40 minutes.
SAT test structure
The SAT exam analyzes your abilities in 3 main areas:
- Writing and Language
The EBRW (Evidence-based reading and writing) section consists of 96 questions with a time limit of 100 minutes. This section is divided into:
Reading Test. This test has 5 passages and 52 questions. You need to attempt these questions in 65 minutes.
Writing and Language Test. This section has 44 questions with a time limit of 35 minutes.
The EBRW section tests you in five key areas: information and ideas, rhetoric, words in context, command & evidence, and synthesis.
The Math section of the SAT exam consists of two types of questions:
Math with a calculator: This consists of 20 questions that you need to attempt in 25 minutes.
Math without a calculator: This section has 38 math questions that you need to attempt without a calculator. The time limit of this section is 55 minutes.
The math section includes a variety of topics, such as algebra, data analysis, advanced math, problem-solving, area and volume, basic trigonometry, coordinate geometry, etc.
ACT exam vs SAT: How are they scored?
Both ACT and SAT have their own criteria to score the exam. You must take into account the criteria while making your decision.
ACT exam: Score range
The score range of the ACT lies between 1-36. This includes the average of the scores of the four sections (English, Math, Reading, Science). The essay section is measured separately on a score of 1-6. The average score of the ACT exam is about 21, but you should always aim for a higher score.
SAT exam: Score range
The scores in the SAT exam range from 400-1600. Both the EBRW and the math section have a score range of 200-800. The scores are calculated individually for the two sections and are added back to get a final score. The average SAT score is said to be about 1051.
ACT vs SAT: Exam registration fee
The exam fee is another important factor that you should consider while choosing between these exams.
ACT exam fee
The ACT exam fee is $60 without the writing section and $85 with the writing section. Please note that there are additional fees for factors such as late registration, change (test date) fee, additional score reports, etc. You can check more details on the official ACT website.
SAT exam fee
The SAT exam fee is $55 as mentioned on the College Board website. There are additional charges for various factors including, late registration, canceling the registration, late cancellation, waitlist fee, etc.
ACT vs SAT: Which exam should you take?
Now that you have certain parameters to go through, you can weigh your options and choose what works best for you. You can also come to a conclusion by taking a few practice tests for both tests. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses and make an informed decision about your career.
If you are still confused about which exam to choose in the battle of ACT vs SAT, feel free to reach out to us. Our higher-ed experts can clarify your doubts and show you the right path. You can also begin your test prep journey with us and nail these exams with the right guidance!
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