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ACT vs. SAT: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 11, 2023
ACT and SAT are both standardized tests used for college admissions in the US, but have different structures and scoring systems.

Key Differences

The ACT, originally abbreviation for American College Testing, is a standardized test popularly utilized for college admissions in the United States. On the other hand, the SAT, which stands for Scholastic Assessment Test, is another pivotal standardized test wielded for college admissions in the US.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023
The ACT traditionally has been known for its focus on assessing what students have learned in school, while the SAT has been more aptitude-oriented, though recent changes have made it more similar to the ACT in terms of content and structure.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023
ACT’s content areas are English, Math, Reading, and Science, while the SAT encompasses Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. The ACT offers an optional writing test, which is an essay test, whereas the SAT provides an optional essay test as well.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023
Both tests have been widely recognized and accepted by universities across the United States for admission purposes.
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Oct 11, 2023

Comparison Chart

Full Form

American College Testing
Scholastic Assessment Test
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Oct 11, 2023
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Content Areas

English, Math, Reading, and Science
Reading, Writing, Math
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Oct 11, 2023

Essay Test

Optional
Optional
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Oct 11, 2023

Scoring Method

Composite score of 1-36
Total score range from 400 to 1600
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Oct 11, 2023

Popularity/Usage

Widely used nationwide
Widely used nationwide
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Oct 11, 2023

ACT and SAT Definitions

Act

Act refers to the process of doing something.
She will act quickly to resolve the issue.
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Oct 11, 2023
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Sat

Sat is the past tense of the verb “sit,” indicating to be in a position of rest.
She sat on the bench and watched the birds.
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Oct 11, 2023

Act

Act also implies performing a role in a play, movie, or show.
He wants to act in a Broadway play.
Janet White
Oct 11, 2023

Sat

Sat is used to indicate a way to settle or position oneself.
He sat himself in the most comfortable chair.
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Oct 11, 2023

Act

Act can also refer to a law or formal decision made by a parliament or other legislative body.
The act was passed to regulate trade.
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Oct 11, 2023

Sat

Sat can indicate a mounting position, as in horse riding.
She sat her horse with effortless grace.
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Oct 11, 2023

Act

Act is utilized to describe the exact written copy of a play or other performance.
The director distributed the act to all the actors.
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Oct 11, 2023

Sat

Sat can also be an abbreviation for the Scholastic Assessment Test.
He took the SAT in his junior year of high school.
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Oct 11, 2023

Act

Act might refer to one of the main divisions of a play or opera.
The second act of the play was incredibly dramatic.
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Oct 11, 2023

Sat

Sat sometimes refers to providing a base or foundation.
The house sat on a robust concrete foundation.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 11, 2023

Act

The process of doing or performing something
The act of thinking.
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Nov 15, 2015

Sat

Past tense and past participle of sit.
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Nov 15, 2015

Act

Something done or performed; a deed
A charitable act.
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Nov 15, 2015

FAQs

What is the maximum score for the SAT?

The highest possible score on the SAT is 1600.
Sara Rehman
Oct 11, 2023

What does SAT stand for?

SAT originally stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, but now it's simply the SAT.
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Oct 11, 2023

How is the ACT scored?

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, based on the average of scores from four areas: English, Math, Reading, and Science.
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Oct 11, 2023

Are the ACT and SAT focused on different content?

While both cover English and Math, the ACT also includes a Science section, and the SAT has a more comprehensive Math section.
Harlon Moss
Oct 11, 2023

Can I take the ACT or SAT more than once?

Yes, students can take the ACT or SAT multiple times and typically submit their best scores.
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Oct 11, 2023

Can ACT or SAT scores impact scholarship opportunities?

Yes, high ACT or SAT scores can help students qualify for academic scholarships.
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Oct 11, 2023

Can accommodations be made for students with disabilities taking the ACT or SAT?

Yes, both tests offer accommodations, but requests typically need to be made in advance.
Harlon Moss
Oct 11, 2023

Is there any Science section in the SAT?

No, the SAT does not have a dedicated Science section like the ACT.
Janet White
Oct 11, 2023

What is the ACT?

The ACT is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States.
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Oct 11, 2023

Are all colleges accepting both the ACT and SAT for admission?

Most colleges and universities in the United States accept both the ACT and SAT for admission.
Janet White
Oct 11, 2023

How do the lengths of the ACT and SAT compare?

The ACT is slightly shorter than the SAT, with the ACT lasting 2 hours and 55 minutes without the essay, and the SAT lasting 3 hours without the essay.
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Oct 11, 2023

Can I send my best ACT or SAT score to colleges?

Yes, you can usually choose which ACT or SAT scores to send to colleges.
Janet White
Oct 11, 2023

What does a good ACT or SAT score look like?

A good score depends on the college; however, above average on either test is often considered competitive.
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Oct 11, 2023

Are the ACT and SAT only for high school students?

While primarily taken by high school students, the ACT and SAT are available to anyone.
Sara Rehman
Oct 11, 2023

How are the scores of ACT and SAT utilized?

Colleges use ACT and SAT scores as a part of their admissions process to assess applicants’ academic capabilities.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 11, 2023

Is the essay section mandatory in SAT?

No, the essay section on the SAT is optional.
Harlon Moss
Oct 11, 2023

Is the writing test mandatory in the ACT?

No, the ACT writing test is optional.
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Oct 11, 2023

How often are the ACT and SAT offered?

The ACT and SAT are typically offered several times a year, generally in the fall and spring.
Janet White
Oct 11, 2023

Do colleges prefer the ACT over the SAT, or vice versa?

Generally, colleges do not have a preference between the ACT and SAT.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 11, 2023

Where can I prepare for the ACT or SAT?

Various online platforms, books, and preparatory courses offer ACT and SAT preparation material.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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