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.