How the ACT Compares to the SAT

Comparison of the ACT to the SAT*




Accepted at all U.S. Colleges yes yes
Calculator allowed for entire math test yes no
Essay is optional yes yes
No penalty for guessing yes yes
Free daily practice questions yes yes
Free comprehensive test practice yes yes
Test fees waived for eligible students yes yes
Fee waiver students eligible for college application fee waiver yes yes
Free score reports yes yes
All tests 1 hour or less yes no
Measures what you learn in high school yes yes
You always know which questions count yes no
You have access to English learner supports yes no
You get a STEM score yes no
Subject scores are balanced yes no
Testing time 2 hours 55 minutes
+ 40-minute essay (optional)
3 hours
+ 50-minute essay (optional)
Structure 4 tests + optional writing test 3 tests + optional essay
Longest test 1 hr 1 hr 20 min
Shortest test 35 min 35 min
Score range Composite 1–36 (writing domain scores: 2–12) Composite 400–1600 (SAT Essay: reported in 3 dimensions, each 2–8)

*Based on publicly released SAT information.