If you are planning to apply to college, you will most likely need to take at least one college entrance exam. The SAT and ACT differ in content, and how you prepare can be key in scoring well on either exam. Both exams are administered nationally and are used by colleges to determine eligibility for acceptance. Most colleges accept either exam, but be sure to check your college website for your particular college requirements. So, if you have the choice, which exam is right for you?
The SAT measures aptitude (capability, abililty, talent). Its core subjects are READING, MATH, AND WRITING.
The ACT measures achievement (accomplishment, and what you have learned). It measures ENGLISH, MATH, READING AND SCIENCE.
Reading passages with questions pertaining to comprehension and sentence completion
4 passages, 10 questions per passage
Science (analysis, knowledge, problem solving)
Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and algebra II
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry
Optional (final section)
Aggregate score 600 - 2400 based on total of 3 scores 200- 800 (Reading, Math, Writing)
Score of 0-12 for Essay
Composite score 1-36 based on average of 4 sections (English Math, Reading Science)
Score 0-12 for Optional Essay.
Penalties (typically ¼ point deducted) for wrong answers
No penalties for incorrect answers
Sending Scores to Colleges
Currently entire score history is sent. Starting with the March 2009 test date, students can select (“opt-in feature”) which will allow them to choose specific test date(s) – 3/09 and forward - and all scores from the selected test date(s) will be sent.
As well as differing on content, scores also differ. Since we are most used to SAT scores, students often want to know how their ACT scores "stack up" against their SAT scores. Charts have been developed to make these comparisons and may be found at: