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ACT vs SAT: Which test is right for you?

8 min read
Uploaded on
Jan 6, 2023
Last updated on
Nov 1, 2023
Uploaded on
Jan 6, 2023
Last updated on
Nov 1, 2023
ACT or SAT? Ace it!

Students frequently inquire as to what could be better and hence - SAT vs. ACT. I’m sure your mind must me ACTing up because of this confusion. We would have SAT down with a cool mind and just continued to read this blog. Most institutions respect and accept both the ACT and the SAT equally. Colleges compare candidates using these scores before granting admission to their institution. Which one should you choose then? It is pretty difficult to notice their distinctions at first sight but we have made it easier for you! 


While both the SAT and ACT are standardised examinations that evaluate a student's aptitude and preparedness for college, they differ significantly from one another. The SAT and ACT have competed against one another for many years. The ACT is a placement test that is used as a measure of academic readiness and accomplishment. The SAT was initially a more psychological test that evaluates learning ability.

What is SAT?

Most colleges and institutions base their admissions choices on the SAT entrance exam. The College Board developed and delivers the SAT, a multiple-choice test that is taken on traditional methods.

Types of SAT

There are two types of SAT tests - SAT1 and SAT2.
Students applying to undergraduate programmes must take the SAT 1, often known as the Scholastic Assessment Test, which is administered by the College Board. The SAT 1 is a generic exam designed to assess applicants' writing, verbal, and mathematical abilities. 
The SAT 2 is an exam that is more subject-specific in comparison. To prove their proficiency in a certain topic, students applying for admission to a particular course must take the SAT Subject Test. Aspirants just need to take the SAT 2023 now in order to be admitted to their preferred UG programme.

SAT Eligibility 

When the question of eligibility comes to consideration, we’re sure these questions come up to your head. So making it easier, we have answered a few questions. 

1. What is the age limit to appear for the SAT exam?
Candidates should be made aware that there is no set SAT age limit for pupils wishing to take the exam, nor are there any minimum or maximum age requirements. According to general research, individuals between the ages of 17 and 19 are among the most likely to take the SAT. If you feel like it’s too early to take all that exam stress, don’t worry we got you covered. 

2. How many times can you take the SAT exam?
There are no limitations on taking the SAT exam; students are free to take it as many times as they choose, much like the ACT. Although we wouldn’t want your efforts to go to waste, to ace it in the first go we have the best tips for your SAT preparations. 

3. What skills does the SAT Exam test?
The SAT exam evaluates a candidate's writing, critical reading, and mathematical abilities. The examiners evaluate the abilities that students have acquired in their academic settings. They put to the test the abilities that college students need to succeed academically.

What is ACT?

Colleges and institutions in the United States use the ACT, a standardised test. The ACT measures scientific thinking, mathematics, English, and two other key academic skills. A writing test is an additional option on the exam. Over 222 colleges outside of the United States as well as US universities that offer four-year programmes generally accept the exam. The test has four main ACT sections: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science.  Unlike the SAT exam, here you don’t have the option of giving sections of the exam, all the sections and their cumulative scores are taken into consideration. 

Differences between the SAT and ACT Tests

Although one may not find a lot of differences between the two tests, there are minor differences. 

1. SAT vs. ACT Scores

Each SAT component is graded on a scale from 200 to 800 points. Your section scores add up to your overall SAT score. 1600 is the maximum possible SAT score, whereas the ACT test scores are between 1 to 36. University admissions employ a straightforward conversion chart to compare test results with those of other candidates, despite the fact that these scoring values differ.

2. SAT vs. ACT Test Questions

Compared to the SAT, which includes 154 questions, the ACT has 215 assessment questions. The time for each evaluation is the distinction between the two tests. 

3. SAT vs. ACT Timing

The SAT allows you to take more time on each question since there is greater time allotted for each section. But this could be because SAT questions are more complex and include more writing, whereas ACT questions are simpler. For instance, the reading comprehension section of the SAT gives you around 13 minutes each paragraph. You only have roughly eight minutes each section on the ACT.

4. SAT vs. ACT Test Sections

Both exams contain sections on maths, reading, and writing, but only the ACT include a scientific section. The SAT contains a basic formula page and an extra non-calculator maths component. An extra writing portion with a prompt is now available on the ACT. Students are free to share their individual viewpoints on a subject in this part as long as they can support them with solid reasoning.

Read more about Preparing For Sats

Similarities between the SAT and ACT Tests

There are so many similarities between the two exams which is why students get confused on which one to choose. Some similarities are:

1. They provide institutions with a thorough picture of each student's ability.
2. They cover fundamental topics including reading, writing, and maths.
3. They take more than three hours to finish whereas the ACT lasts for 15 minutes less.
4. Typically, 3rd and 4th-year high school students take these tests
5. Registration for both opens about one month before the test date
6. In general, most colleges accept both.
7. Both tests contain reading and writing inquiries based on passages
8. For incorrect answers, students are not penalised.

Which countries accept SAT or ACT? 

There are many countries where SAT and ACT are accepted. Some of the top countries that students apply to after giving the SAT or ACT exam are: 

Counties that accept SAT and ACT

1. USA
2. India
3. UK
4. Singapore
5. Malaysia
6. Canada
7. Australia and many more countries. 

Where are SAT and ACT scores used? 

Colleges and institutions utilise SAT or ACT scores to determine your eligibility for undergraduate admission. Comparing students or candidates exclusively on the basis of GPA is challenging since applicants may come from various nations, cities, educational institutions, and curriculum. The SAT or CAT exam results,  along with the GPA, extracurricular accomplishments, essays, SOPs, and LORs, are crucial for determining a candidate's overall admissions eligibility for admission in any university. In order to get good scores, having a good preparation and staying organised is very important.  Here are some student hacks that you can implement in your daily life. 

Which is easier, the SAT or ACT?

This is a typical query, which makes sense. To increase your chances of getting a good score, you should take the simpler exam. Some claim that the ACT is simpler since the total score is lower. Universities compare students using both examinations as academic indicators. They present a comparable degree of challenge and are equivalent in complexity. Most universities would vouch for this by asserting that both examinations are equally difficult. But don't stress because managing your stress and keeping a good physical and mental health is very important to ace any exam. If you really want to ace SATs please check Ultimate Guide To Preparing For SATs.

SAT vs ACT: How Can You Decide?

Although this is a tough decision to take, there are few things that you need to keep in mind before choosing which exam to give. 

  • Typically students who are strong in maths and science tend to prefer the ACT since it has a science portion which lacks in SAT. 
  • No college favours one exam over the other. 
  • Both examinations have the same purpose, which is to demonstrate college preparation. 
  • However, the exams' scheduling, format, and scoring all differ. 
  • Both exams measure a student's capacity for critical thought and analytical reasoning. 
  • While some students take both tests, experts say that isn't always essential, and that because each test is different, it may be difficult to prepare for both.
  • Instead of switching back and forth between the two, it is essential to become an expert in one as each demands distinct approaches.

We hope this blog has helped you narrow down your choice. It’s okay to be confused at first, we all are. It’s no point losing your sleep over it because afterall a good sleep is very important too.  If you are looking for further information on US intakes you can read our blog for the same. Also check out our blog on top tips for SAT.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the ACT easier than the SAT?

Do colleges prefer the ACT or SAT?

Do you have to take the SAT and ACT?

What does SAT and ACT stand for?

How long are the SAT and ACT tests scores valid for?

ACT vs SAT: Which test is right for you?
8 min read
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