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Differences between SAT Vs ACT

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Primarily these tests are used for US and Canadian based colleges and universities. However, universities from other countries may accept the ACT and SAT based on their {individual} admissions policy. The purpose of the examination is to test High School students fairly and equally. The SAT remains a more popular choice for international students. However, the ACT may be preferable if the student has attributes more inclined to this test. The basic outline for each test can be found below:

Number of Question215154
Length of Assessment3 hours 35 minutes3 hours 15 minutes
Scoring Scale1-36400-1600
SectionsMath (Calculator and Non-Calculator), Reading and WritingMath, Reading, Writing, and Optional Essay
Test DatesFour times per year – March, May, October, and DecemberSix times per year – February, April, June, July, September, and October

Students completing the SAT will receive a score between 400 and 1600, whereas the ACT provides each student a grade between 1-36. The SAT contains a wider range of possible scores; however, all universities possess a simple conversion tool to establish the equivalent score between both tests.  The SAT and ACT verbal sections {Reading, Writing and English} account for half the exam score, rather than two-thirds of the total score in previous years.

A difference in the number of questions can be observed with the SAT requiring 154 questions to be taken whilst the ACT requires 215. The difference in the number of questions will be reflected by the time provided for each section.

The SAT often requires additional writing and problem solving skills when comparisons are made to the ACT. Both tests cover writing, reading and maths; however, the ACT includes a science section. In contrast the SAT requires students to complete an additional non-calculator maths section and will include a basic formula page to assist. Typically, science students will complete the ACT and more maths focussed students will complete the SAT.

The SAT focusses more on mathematics. The SAT maths test is divided into one calculator and one non-calculator section. Both maths test will contribute to 50% of the final SAT score. Conversely the ACT only has one mathematics section and accounts for 25% of the overall score.

Reading {25%}Reading {75%}Math {25%}Math {75%}
Cornell University690760700790
Harvard University730790730800
Princeton University710780720790
Yale University730780730800
Alabama University380470370440
Clemson University620690600700
Florida University620710620690
Alabama University380470370440

Students are required to book online and pay their registration fee. Students will have to find their local SAT or ACT test centre and select their preferred date / time.

Visit the following website, College Board website. advises students to start the process early. This allows students to take multiple tests if required and build upon the scores they receive. Make sure not to miss any examination deadlines.

Visit the following website, ACT website. For international students, test dates are generally in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July.

Most students start preparing for the exam a year or more in advance. suggests students set aside at least 6-8 months of intensive study to pass the test. If students are targeting an Ivy league school or equivalent hiring a SAT or ACT tutor may prove beneficial. These examinations are more challenging if English is not the students primary language.  

Students are required to register for the SAT or ACT test at least one month prior to the test date. Students should expect to wait up to 1-month to receive their results. Students should know what university they are applying to and the range of scores required prior to sitting the test. advises all students who are required to study an ACT or SAT to take multiple practice tests to determine if they are more suited to the ACT or SAT.

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