Both the ACT and SAT are standardized exams, and their results are accepted in all colleges and universities. If you are thinking, “which is harder: SAT or ACT”, it all depends on which one you choose and where there is a better chance to get a higher score. Of course, the difference between the SAT and the ACT does exist: the test structure, length and many other features may vary. Remember: you can begin with a free practice test and see which exam suits you more. Read our guide to find out about both tests and determine which one is suitable for you.
When it comes to the structure, both tests contain Reading, Writing and Math sections.
Moreover, you are free to choose an additional essay writing, which is optional. A good thing to know is that you won’t be penalized for wrong answers. Nowadays the rules are much more softened, so you don’t have to worry about getting any fines.
The ACT lasts 3 hours, but with a 50-minute essay, it will take 3 hours and 50 minutes in total.
The SAT takes 2 hours and 55 minutes, however an optional essay extends it to 3 hours and 40 minutes. What is more, when taking the SAT, a student will get more time to answer each question, compared to ACT.
The ACT consists of the following sections:
The SAT test has the following components:
Unlike the SAT, the ACT has an additional Science section that consists of 40 questions and lasts 35 minutes. Science Reasoning is aimed at testing your critical thinking rather than actual scientific knowledge. Though the SAT does not include the science test, scientific questions are included into the exam as well.
Although both tests may look pretty much the same, there are crucial differences between the two.
When it comes to the math section, both exams cover the following disciplines:
However, the SAT math section has additional Data Analysis, while the ACT one includes Probability & Statistics. Here is another difference between the math sections of the two exams: The SAT offers a diagram of math formulas, whereas the ACT does not.
When you glance at the Reading section of the ACT and SAT, you will see that they look quite similar; still, there are couple differences to observe:
Although the ACT and the SAT have many things in common, there is one thing that makes them different – an optional essay. The idea behind the ACT essay is to provide you with three perspectives on a debatable topic, which you will have to analyze and suggest your personal opinion on the matter. If you are good at debating and logical reasoning, the ACT essay may be the perfect option for you. For the SAT essay, you will have a 650-700 word passage to read and analyze how the author develops his argument in a separate essay. Here, you won’t need to give your own opinion or your arguments but simply evaluate the reading. SAT essay is the best option for those with good analytical skills, students who like analyzing readings during their English class will definitely enjoy it.
Both the ACT and the SAT exams are held seven times per year. Specifically, the SAT is not taken in the following months: January, February, July, and September, while the ACT is not available in January, March, May, August, and November. Keep in mind that in some states the ACT and the SAT exams are a part of the state testing requirements, so the tests are not held on the national test days.
Is the ACT easier than the SAT? The answer to that question lies in understanding what you find easy and what you consider difficult.
Choose an exam and take the time to prepare. Focus on the most important things.
The ACT exam is better for you if:
The SAT exam is better for you if: