Difference Between ACT and SAT


Main Difference

ACT and SAT are two performance measure test, generally conduct to evaluate the skills and abilities of a student for admission in higher stage/class/program. The main difference between ACT and SAT is that ACT is conducted to check what student has learned in his school classes in order to securing admission in a college. On other side SAT is a critical thinking and problem solving test that usually contains the more math portion and is conducted to check the concepts of a student.

What is ACT?

ACT stands for American College Test that is an assessment test conducted for admission in college by checking the achievements of high school. It was came into being in November 1959 by Everett Franklin in completion with College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test that is now simply called SAT. ACT comprises four tests namely English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Natural Sciences. However, in 1989, Social Studies was replaces by Reading section and now Social Studies is the sub-section of Reading. Test duration of ACT is 3 hours, 25 minutes (with Writing Test). Score system of ACT is composite of 1-36 based on average scores from the four test sections. Four scores for 1-36 each test. Optional writing test score of 0-12 that is not included in the overall score. Moreover, there is no penalty for wrong answers.


What is SAT?

SAT is also a college admission test and stands for Scholastic Assessment Test. IT was came introduced in 1926. It is conducted by the Educational Testing Service on behalf of the College Board. It is a paper-based standardized test. The test is conducted to assess a student’s readiness for college. SAT is totally a reasoning based test. SAT test comprise 10 sections that are: 3 critical reading, 3 Mathematics, 3 writing, and 1 experimental that is unscored. Current total SAT score range from 600 to 2400 based on adding score form three subjects. There is penalty of wrong answer in SAT, 1/4 point will be subtracted from the raw score for each wrong answer (except for Math Grid-ins). Current test duration of SAT is 3 hours, 45 minutes.


Key Differences

  1. ACT us a content-based test while SAT is a reasoning-based test.
  2. There is no penalty in answering wrong in ACT. However, there is penalty for wrong answer in SAT that is deduction of ¼ of a point for each incorrect answers (except for Math Grid-ins).
  3. Duration of ACT is 3 hours, 25 minutes (with writing test). Duration of SAT test is 3hours, 45 minutes.
  4. ACT has 4 sections while SAT contains 10 sections.
  5. SAT is conducted seven times in a year in the month of January, March/April, May, June, October, November and December. ACT is held six times in a year in the month of February, April, June, September, October, and December.
  6. ACT contains a complete science section comprising analysis, interpretation, evaluation, basic content, and problem solving while science is totally not applicable in SAT.
  7. ACT is an achievement test that measures the high school performance of student while SAT is an aptitude test that is more focused on testing, reasoning, and verbal abilities.
Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson