SAT vs. ACT:  Which Test is Better for You?

** SAT = Red

** ACT = Blue


3 Hours with 50 minute optional essay

2 Hours, 55 Minutes with 40 minute optional Writing Test


4 Sections:   Critical Reading,  Writing, Math (no calculator first),  Math (with calculator), Optional Essay

4 Test Sections (5 with the optional Writing Test):  English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing (Optional),


Reading Comprehension passages and questions, and sentence completion questions – 52 questions in 65 minutes

Reading comprehension passages and questions and sentence completion questions – 40 questions in 35 minutes


Math has 50 questions in 80 minutes –  Math questions will emphasize situations more applicable to the real world. There will be more algebra, less geometry, and even a little trigonometry.

Math accounts for 1/4 of overall score   *  Arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry


Science not included

Science (analysis, interpretation, evaluation, basic content and problem solving


50 minute optional essay – Instead of being incorporated into the Writing score, the new essay will be optional and separately scored (just like the current ACT essay is). Instead of defending their own opinions, students will be analyzing an author’s argument. The essay assignment, or prompt, will be published ahead of time. The passage of text that students must analyze will not be published beforehand.

40 minute optional essay – In 2015, the ACT Writing Test changed to a format that asks students to come up with their own analysis and evaluate multiple perspectives of complex issues. Their analysis needs be based on reasoning, experience and knowledge. The timing of the Writing Test has increased from 30 minutes to 40 minutes, but remains optional and doesn’t have any impact on the composite score. Students receive a breakdown of their scores in the areas of ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use.

On the new Writing Test, students are given a single prompt which provides context, as well as three perspectives on the issue raised in the prompt. The student is then asked to analyze the perspectives, develop his or her own opinion, and explain how that opinion relates to the perspectives given.  For a sample of the prompt for the ACT optional essay, go here.


Total score out of 1600 

Total composite score of 1-36 (based on average of 4 tests) 


No wrong answer penalty

No wrong answer penalty


You decide which score is sent.

You decide which score is sent.

TEST CONTACT INFORMATION:  The College Board, 866.756.7346,

ACT, Inc.,  319.337.1000,

** SAT = Red

** ACT = Blue

Aim High Tutors

34145 Pacific Coast Highway, #233

Dana Point  CA  92629

(949) 249-2130