A Comparison of the ACT and SAT

the SAT
The Your Score Booster SAT workbook covers reading, writing and math and comes with a supplement for the SAT essay.

ACT Workbook
Our ACT workbook covers all sections: Reading, English, Math, Science and Writing (essay)

The SAT allows more time per question, but SAT reading and math questions can be somewhat more complex than ACT reading and math questions. The questions on SAT writing and ACT English (both sections cover English grammar and writing) are about equal in difficulty. However, some ACT English questions ask about the entire passage, questions which can require more time than answering a question about a particular underlined portion of a passage.

ACT? SAT? What’s the Difference?

That’s a great question.

Universities accept both exams and don’t care which one you take. Determining which test to take will vary from student to student. We can give students diagnostics on both exams to see which test is better for that particular student. 

Here’s a Your Score Booster comparison of the two tests:

The SAT launched in March 2016, and it looks a lot more like its rival, the ACT. That’s because in 2012, more students took the ACT than took the SAT. So College Board, which make the SAT, revised the exam.

The ACT has a science section; the SAT does not have a separate science section but puts some relatively easy science questions in other sections. Don’t be intimidated by the science; it’s not that difficult, and most of the information is provided in a passage. The sections require students to work very fast, getting through seven sections on science (40 questions) in 35 minutes. Students must be quick thinkers.

The ACT English (grammar) and SAT writing (grammar) sections consist of several passages. Students have to correct the grammar and recommend changes for rhetorical purposes. With some tips, strategies and practice, the grammar sections are one of the easiest sections to master on both the SAT and ACT, even for many students who speak English as a second language.

The ACT math section is all multiple choice and allows calculator usage. The SAT has one math section that allows calculator usage and another that bans calculator usage. Both of those SAT math sections have some multiple choice questions and some grid-in questions. For grid-in questions, students must provide an answer that can be any number from 0 to 9999, including decimals and fractions.

The ACT reading section is more straightforward but provides less time per question than the SAT reading section.

Your Score Booster can help. We provide expert tutors and instructors, comprehensive workbooks, diagnostic tests, detailed PointsBooster® analysis reports for daignostics and Just4You™ quizzes for both exams. Contact us now for more information.

This table compares the timing of the two exams.

SAT vs ACT Questions and Timing

No. of QuestionsMinutesSeconds Per Question
SAT Writing (Grammar)443547
ACT English (Grammar)754536
SAT Math no calculator202575
SAT Math with calculator385586
ACT Math (all multiple choice)606060
SAT Reading526575
ACT Reading Passages403553
SAT (No separate science section, but simple science questions appear on other sections)
ACT Science403553