Should I take the ACT or the SAT?

ACT vs. SAT

The road to college can be confusing one. Choosing the right admission test to take - SAT or ACT - doesn’t have to be. While most colleges across the country accept scores from either test, there are differences in the tests, and in many ways, they measure different skills. Check with your guidance counselor and college admission offices to decide which test is right for you.

Differences at a Glance

SAT ACT
Why Take It Colleges use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships. Colleges use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships.
Test Structure
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Writing and Language
Essay (Optional)
  • Math
  • Reading
  • English
  • Science
Essay (Optional)
Length
  • 3 hours (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)
  • 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)
Reading 5 reading passages 4 reading passages
Science None 1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)
Math Covers:
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis
Covers:
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I & II
  • Geometry and Trigonometry
Tools Some math questions don't allow you to use a calculator. You can use a calculator on all math questions.
Essays Optional. The essay will test your comprehension of a source text. Optional. The essay will test how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues.
How It's Scored Scored on a scale of 400-1600 Scored on a scale of 1-36
Registration Register online at www.actstudent.org Register online at www.collegeboard.com

ACT Study resource:

ACT
Test Date
Deadline Late Deadline Score Release*
Sept 8, 2018 Aug 3, 2018 Aug 17, 2018 Sept 18; Oct 2, 2018
Oct 27, 2018 Sept 21, 2018 Oct 5, 2018 Nov 6; Nov 20, 2018
Dec 8, 2018 Nov 2, 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Dec 18, 2018; Jan 1, 2019
Feb 9, 2019 Jan 4, 2019 Jan 18, 2019 Feb 19; Mar 5, 2019
Apr 13, 2019 Mar 8, 2019 Mar 22, 2019 Apr 23; May 7, 2019
June 8, 2019 May 3, 2019 May 17, 2019 June 18; July 2, 2019
July 13, 2019 June 14, 2019 June 21, 2019 July 23; Aug 6, 2019

SAT
Test Date
Normal Registration Late Registration Score Release
Aug 25, 2018 Jul 27, 2018 Aug 10, 2018 Sept 13, 2018
Oct 6, 2018 Sep 7, 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Oct 25, 2018
Nov 3, 2018 Oct 5, 2018 Oct 19, 2018 Nov 22, 2018
Dec 1, 2018 Nov 2, 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Dec 20, 2018
Mar 9, 2019 Feb 8, 2019 Feb 22, 2019 Mar 28, 2018
May 4, 2019 Apr 5, 2019 Apr 19, 2019 May 23, 2018
Jun 1, 2019 May 3, 2019 May 17, 2019 June 20, 2018
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