Difference Between ACT and SAT

Difference Between ACT and SAT

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. It is directly related to what students learn in most of their high school courses. The current SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.

 The vast majority of colleges and universities accept both SAT scores and ACT scores.

Category ACT SAT
Test Fee $50.50
$67.50 (with writing)
$46.00
$60.00 (with essay test)
Total Testing Time 3 hours and 15 minutes (plus 40 minutes for optional essay) 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for optional essay)
Components
  • Mathematics test (60 items, 60 minutes)
  • Reading test (40 items, 35 minutes)
  • Science test (40 items, 35 minutes)
  • English test (75 items, 45 minutes)
  • Writing test (optional; 1 prompt, 40 minutes)
  • Maths (58 items, 80 minutes)
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
    • Reading Test (52 items, 65 minutes)
    • Writing and Language Test (44 Items, 35 minutes)
  • Essay (optional; 1 prompt, 50 minutes)
Important Features
  • Designed to measure academic achievement in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.
  • Scores based on the number of correct answers. No penalty for incorrect answers.
  • Includes enhanced scoring for reliable college and career planning insights:
    • STEM Score
    • ELA Score
    • Progress Toward Career Readiness Indicator
    • Text Complexity Progress Indicator
  • Continued emphasis on reasoning.
  • Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact.
  • Scores based on the number of correct answers. No penalty for incorrect answers.

Score Reporting

  • ACT Composite Score: 1–36 (average of four test scores)
  • ACT English test: 1–36
  • ACT reading test: 1–36
  • ACT mathematics test: 1–36
  • ACT science test: 1–36
  • ACT writing test (optional): 2-12
  • STEM Score: 1-36
  • ELA Score: 1-36
  • Scale ranging from 400 to 1600
  • Scale ranging from 200 to 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; 200 to 800 for Math; 2 to 8 on each of three traits for Essay
  • Essay results reported separately