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Tutoring & Test Preparation

ACT vs SAT

Students often ask, “Which test should I take? The SAT or the ACT?”

The answer is related to each person’s individual strengths and weaknesses.  While the ACT and SAT both challenge students’ basic math, reading and writing skills, they emphasize different aspects of each and sharply differ in the way in which those skills are tested.

Therefore, students asking this question should take practice tests for each to determine where their natural aptitude and preferences lie. A tutor or counselor can also advise students on the best test for them.

If you’d like to get a head start by learning the differences between each test, you can read the overview below, view our comprehensive SAT vs ACT FAQ, or visit our SAT and ACT description pages to see how we help you prepare for each.

Characteristic

SAT

ACT

Description

Apply your skills to tricky problems

An assessment test: demonstrate your academic skills quickly and competently

Good For People Who Are…

Vocabulary whizzes

Comfortable testing
Analytical thinkers

Fast readers

Straight A students prone to testing anxiety

Time to Completion

3 hours, 45 minutes

3 hours, 25 minutes

Top Score

2400

36

Number of Questions

170

215

Number of Sections

3 types, 10 total

4

Sections Covered

Critical Reading, Math, Writing

English, Math, Reading, Science

Writing Essay Included

Yes

Optional (some colleges require it)

Penalty for Wrong Answers

Yes

No

Allow for Score Choice

Yes

Yes

Preparation Time

Varies; average of 3 months

Varies; average of 3 months

When Offered

October-January, March or April, May, and June

September, October, December, February, April, and June

Registration Fee

$47

$33

$48 ACT with Writing

How to Register

Sat.collegeboard.org website

Actstudent.org website

 

If you still need to talk with someone about which test is right for you, let us help you decide.

 
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