ACT

ACT

Overview

The ACT includes four subject area tests plus a 40-minute Writing Test. ACT results are accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The test features 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. Writing section is optional and is 40 minutes. I recommend students take the writing test as some schools recommend or require it.

What is the difference between the SAT and the ACT?

According to ACT Student (the organization that administers the ACT), the difference between the SAT and the ACT is:

The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities. The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test. The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.

We have been teaching and tutoring the ACT for over 15 years. Not only does our founder, Steve, teach and tutor the ACT, he takes the ACT too! Steve scored a 35 in the 99th percentile in all 4 subject areas on the June 2015 ACT.  Read his detailed report here!

  • The SAT is much more abstract and algebra-focused.
  • The SAT has sections that are not multiple-choice and also sections that do not allow calculator use.
  • The ACT allows a calculator for the entire math section.
  • The SAT gives students several formulas at the beginning of the math section (but since most are geometry and the SAT is mostly algebra, they are not of much use.)
  • The ACT is much more of a race against the clock than is the SAT.
  • The ACT has a science section and the SAT does not. However, the science section is really more of a test measuring skills in data interpretation and graph analysis. The new SAT has certainly increased the number of graphs appearing throughout the test (in math, reading and writing.)
  • The SAT is super scored (combination of best section scores from different test dates) by a much higher percentage of colleges than is the ACT.
  • The ACT generally releases scores within 2 weeks. The SAT usually takes 4 weeks.

Students are often intimidated by the fact that the test has a science section, but the name is a little misleading. The science section measures skills required in the natural sciences such as interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem solving. This section (just like the others) can definitely be coached!

For more information on the science section, please click here.

ACT vs SAT

Category ACT SAT
Test Fee $46.00
$62.50 (with writing)
$45.00
$57.00 (with essay test)
International Test Fee $93.50
$110.00 (with writing)
$78.00-107.50, depending on location
Total Testing Time* 2 hours and 55 minutes (plus 40 minutes for the Essay [optional]) 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the Essay [optional])
Components ACT mathematics test (60 items, 60 minutes
ACT reading test (40 items, 35 minutes)
ACT science test (40 items, 35 minutes)
ACT English test (75 items, 45 minutes)
ACT writing test (optional; 1 prompt, 40 minutes)
Math (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
*Redesigned SAT scores subject to research
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


*Redesigned SAT testing time subject to research

Please note these upcoming test dates (Please refer to the official ACT Test site for registration fees and deadlines).

Exam Date Registration Deadline Fee  
October 28, 2017 September 22, 2017 $42.50 (no writing)
$58.50 (with writing)
December 9, 2017 November 3, 2017 $42.50 (no writing)
$58.50 (with writing)
February 10, 2018 January 12, 2018 $42.50 (no writing)
$58.50 (with writing)
April 14, 2018 March 9, 2018 $42.50 (no writing)
$58.50 (with writing)
June 9, 2018 May 4, 2018 $42.50 (no writing)
$58.50 (with writing)
July 14, 2018 June 15, 2018 $42.50 (no writing)
$58.50 (with writing)

Purpose

College Admissions

Test Time

2 hours 55 minutes, no writing
3 hours 35 minutes, no writing

Max Score

800

Website

ACT Website