The ACT vs. the SAT

The Top 8 Reasons to Choose the ACT over the SAT


1. You’ll know which questions count.
On the SAT, you might spend time and energy laboring over a question – not knowing that it does not count toward your score. That won’t happen with the ACT.1

2. Balance.
Math is half of the SAT score. The ACT mathematics section is 25% of the test and 25% of your score.

Chart showing four subject areas of ACT test
Chart showing only two subject areas of SAT test

3. More students take the ACT to get into college.
Make sure you have an ACT score to send!

4. Scholarships
Take a look at what a school counselor found after 10 years of her students taking both the ACT and SAT: more scholarships favored the ACT.

5. No penalty for guessing
We’ve never had a penalty for guessing. We recommend you leave no answer blank.

6. Use your calculator for the whole math test. We don’t mind.
ACT lets you use your calculator for the entire math portion! That’s not true on the SAT.


“Students may be missing out on more scholarship opportunities— and, possibly, college altogether—by not taking the ACT.”

Leslie Trundy, School Counselor, Morse High School

7. You’ve already been studying for the ACT for years.
We designed the test so, that by the end of your junior year, you’ve likely covered all the material on the test.

8. FREE Test Prep
If you do want to prep, you can do it for FREE! ACT Academy is the go-to place to get the most comprehensive, FREE, personalized practice for the ACT.

1Sources: SAT Terms and Conditions

Go ahead, create your future – you’ve got this!


Comparison of the ACT to the SAT*



Accepted at all U.S. Collegesyesyes
Calculator allowed for entire math testyesno
Essay is optionalyesyes
No penalty for guessingyesYes for the new SAT test
Free daily practice questionsyesyes
Free comprehensive test practiceyesyes
Test fees waived for eligible studentsyesyes
Fee waiver students eligible for college application fee waiveryesyes
Free score reportsyesyes
All tests 1 hour or lessyesno
Measures what students learn in high schoolyesYes for the new SAT test
Students always know which questions countyesno
Testing time2 hours 55 minutes
+ 40-minute essay (optional)
3 hours
+ 50-minute essay (optional)
Structure4 tests + optional writing test3 tests + optional essay
Longest test1 hr1 hr 20 min
Shortest test35 min35 min
Score rangeComposite 1–36 (writing domain scores: 2–12)Composite 400–1600 (SAT Essay: reported in 3 dimensions, each 2–8)

What students learn in high school

Predicts how students will perform in college

What students learn in high school

What they need to succeed in college

*based on publicly released SAT information

Key: Green = Yes; Yellow = Yes for the new SAT test; Red = No