SAT vs ACT Exam: Which One Should You Take?

Any university admissions test can be challenging, but the SAT or ACT is often at the heart of the decision-making process. This one will be particularly challenging since students must choose between the two and determine if they will get accepted into their desired school.

There is no benefit to taking the ACT or SAT over the other for application purposes because all US schools and universities accept scores from both exams. However, some students prefer one over the other or perform better on one than the other.

You should take a diagnostic on SAT vs ACT exam to see which test is best for you. Caddell Prep offers free online diagnostic tests for both; you can simply create a free account and take the tests online at your convenience.

Both the SAT and ACT are utilized by schools, institutions, and standardized testing providers to assess candidates. Despite the fact that each exam has a distinct purpose and aim, they all intended to evaluate how well each student is doing throughout a range of academic areas.

Here is a guide that can offer you an insight into how they vary and how you will prepare for both if you are having trouble deciding which one to take.

SAT vs ACT Exam Coverage

Beginning with the topics covered by the exams, both contain the fundamentals like English and mathematics. The ACT will differ, though, because it has a Science part. Both exams have a math section; however, students are not permitted to use a calculator when taking the SAT.

To offer you a better picture, the SAT includes Math, Reading, and Writing & Language. In comparison, ACTs Math, English, Reading, and Science Reasoning. Both have an optional writing component that asks students to write an essay.

Again, the main difference between the two examinations’ mathematics sections would be the use of a calculator, as the SAT forbids students from using one on test day while the ACT permits it.

If you don’t know a lot about science, you might want to think about taking the SAT because it appears to cover fewer topics than the ACT in this portion.

However, if you are the kind of student who does exceptionally well in science and believes that this would give you a greater chance to get higher marks since you can ace it, you might want to consider taking the ACT.

Choosing one of the two will be advantageous for you since, in addition to helping you study for the test, it will also refresh your memory on the foundations of the topics you must study, which will be helpful for the rest of your academic career during study abroad after school.

SAT and ACT Time Coverage for the Exam

Since you don’t have the entire day to complete the exam, the adage “time is gold” is particularly relevant to this area. Both tests have a defined amount of time for you to complete them.

If you concentrate on a particular portion, it could be challenging for you to finish it on time since you never know when another or significantly harder group of questions will appear.

Whether or not the optional writing section is included on the actual SAT exam, students only have three hours to complete it. The ACT, on the other hand, seems to have given the length more thought as it affects whether or not an essay would be included.

With the exception of the essay portion, students have 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete the ACT. The duration would be increased to 3 hours and 40 minutes if students were required to write an essay part.

Given the differences in the number of sections featured on the actual coverage of the two tests, their lengths are fair considering the scope of each in SAT vs ACT exam.

A student’s performance on the test will also affect how long it takes. They won’t have much of a problem with this if they study well and prepare for every exam section. But if a student didn’t put out much effort to ace it, it would undoubtedly become a difficulty or, worst; they wouldn’t be able to answer all of the questions.

SAT vs ACT Exam Scoring Systems

The scoring for the SAT and ACT is significantly different since the ACT rates each portion on a range of 1-36, whereas the SAT rates each section on a scale of 200-400, with a possible total score of 400–1600 points, according to Maryville University. The outcomes of the two tests can still be compared and converted.

What other things you may do to decide which test to take besides reading up on the overview of SAT and ACT?

If you still find it hard to decide which one to take over the other despite the comparisons made in this article. Maybe it’s time for you to take both practice tests and see your results in them. With this method, you can check and see for yourself where you excel the most or can provide you a higher chance of being admitted to the university of your choice.

It may even be used as a reference to show you the parts of the test you do best on or where you struggle. By doing this, you may concentrate on the subjects you need to learn more about or master.

However, suppose you see a pattern where both of your test prep tend to provide results that are almost equal. In that case, you might want to consider speaking with a professional tutor who can offer you a more detailed explanation of which exam to take depending on your academic abilities.

They can also help with your study and test preparation, in addition to the above. Given that not all lessons can be learned on your own, it is advisable for you to have expert assistance. Similarly, it may boost your confidence, giving you a better chance of succeeding on the test.


All ACT or SAT takers are eligible for admission to US schools and institutions. If you take a different exam, for instance, you can still apply to the same institutions.

As discussed above in SAT vs ACT exam comparative study, both examinations are highly regarded, and many schools and institutions require them for entrance. Whichever path a student chooses will thus rely on whether or not they wish to attend a specific institution and what type of student they are.


Editorial Team of Mera Xaam.

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