SAT vs ACT: which test should you take?

If you’re attending to apply to college, you probably heard of the SAT and the ACT. Both exams are widely accepted by colleges in the United States. For this reason, many students ask themselves: Which test should I take? In this blog we’ll explain the differences between the two exams, so you can (hopefully) make an easier decision in which exam to take. Did you already take the SAT test? Then head over to our SAT exam page and help other students pass the SAT’s.

SAT or ACT: which is easier?

Let’s get down to this question right away. Different experts say that one test is not specifically easier than the other one. There are differences between the SAT and ACT that can make one or the other legitimately easier or harder for test takers. Each student is different, so it all depends on your qualities and weaknesses.

For example, one of the differences is that the ACT has a science section. Also, the ACT math section contains more questions dealing with geometry and trigonometry than the SAT does. SAT focuses more on algebra and data analysis. In addition, the ACT doesn’t give you any math formulas. This means you memorize all the formulas. The SAT will give you most of the major math formulas that you need for the test. But the SAT has a no calculator math section. If you aren’t comfortable solving math questions without having a calculator, this part of the SAT might be challenging for you. At last, a key difference is that students with a strong English background may flourish on the ACT, which puts more focus on verbal skills, while for students who are strong in math, the SAT might be a better option.

As you can see, it all depends on your own strengths and weaknesses if the SAT or ACT is easier for you. To help make your decision, you can start with an official practice test to see which exam suits you best.

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

Maybe you want to take the test that is shortest, or you want more time to answer each question. Let’s take a look at some basic differences between the two exams.

The total time for the SAT is 3 hours, while the total time for the ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes. If you choose to do the optional writing section for the ACT test, your total time will be 3 hours and 35 minutes.

The time per section also differs per exam. When doing the SAT test, you’ll get 65 minutes for Reading, 35 minutes for Writing, 25 minutes for Math without calculator and 55 minutes for Math with calculator. If you’re doing the ACT test, you’ll get 45 minutes for English, 60 minutes for Math, 35 minutes for Reading and 35 minutes for Science. The optional writing section takes 40 minutes.

Number of questions
The SAT test includes a total of 154 questions. These questions are divided into the four sections Reading (52 questions), Writing (44 questions), Math without calculator (20 questions) and Math with calculator (38 questions).

The ACT consists of 215 questions, divided into 4 sections. The English section contains 75 questions, Math 60, Reading 40 and Science 40 questions.

SAT and ACT scoring
The sections of the SAT use a scale of 200 to 800 points. In total you can score 400 to 1600 points. The ACT test has a total score of 1 to 36. Each section uses a scale of 1 to 36. Your total score is the average of your four section scores. The optional Writing section uses a scale of 2 to 12 and does not count toward your final score.

ACT and SAT costs
Unfortunately (for you), both exams will cost you money. But luckily, it won’t cost you a fortune. You can take the SAT test for $52 and the ACT for $60 without the optional writing section. If you want to complete the writing section, you’ll have to pay $70.

Should I take the SAT or the ACT test?

It’s all up to you. Hopefully, you have a better understanding in the differences between the SAT and the ACT test. If you are still not sure, we can help you out. Below you will find a list with statements. Answer every statement with ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. What are you waiting for? Let’s find out!

1. I struggle with geometry and trigonometry
2. I’m good at solving math problems without a calculator
3. I can’t recall math formulas easily
4. I want to give my own answers for math question, not multiple-choice
5. I can easily explain my answers with evidence that I find during reading
6. I normally make math tests very well
7. I think chronologically arranged questions are easier to follow
8. Science is not my cup of tea
9. Tight time constraints make me feel stressed
10. It’s easier for me to analyze something than to explain my opinion
11. One of my weaknesses is English language

Good job with answering these statements. Now, count up your ‘agrees’ and ‘disagrees’ and find out your match below.

Mostly agrees – The SAT
If you agree with most of the above statements, the SAT is definitely for you. With the SAT, you’ll have more time for each question. Also, you don’t have to stress about the science question or geometry questions.

Mostly disagrees – The ACT
If you disagree with most of the statements, you might prefer the ACT over the SAT. You’ll never have to think about your own math answer (gotta love multiple-choice) and you can flourish in the English section.

If you agree as much as you disagree, you will be fine either way. You can always take both of the exams and send the one you like to your dream college. This quiz above was fun, but we would always recommend taking official SAT and ACT practice tests. This way, you will be sure.

When you decide which test you will take, come back to us. We can help you study for both the exams. Our platform has tons of ACT or SAT summaries, notes, flashcards and documents.