Difference Between ACT and SAT

Core difference

ACT and SAT are two performance measurement tests, usually taken to assess a student’s skills and abilities for admission into a higher stage/class/program. The main difference between ACT and SAT is that ACT is taken to check what the student has learned in their school classes to secure admission to a university. On the other hand, the SAT is a critical thinking and problem solving test that usually contains the most mathematical part and is taken to verify a student’s concepts.

What is ACT?

ACT stands for American College Test, which is an assessment test taken for college admission by verifying high school achievement. It was created in November 1959 by Everett Franklin upon completion of the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test which is now simply called the SAT. ACT comprises four tests, namely English, math, social studies, and natural science. However, in 1989, Social Studies was replaced by the Reading section and now Social Studies is the Reading subsection. The duration of the ACT test is 3 hours and 25 minutes (with writing test). The ACT scoring system is made up of 1 to 36 based on average scores from the four test sections. Four scores from 1 to 36 on each test. Optional writing test score from 0-12 that is not included in the overall score. Also, there is no penalty for wrong answers.

What is the SAT?

SAT is also a college admissions test and stands for Scholastic Assessment Test. Information technology was introduced in 1926. It is run by the Educational Testing Service on behalf of the College Board. It is a standardized test on paper. The test is given to assess a student’s readiness for college. SAT is a totally reason-based test. The SAT exam consists of 10 sections that are: 3 critical reading, 3 mathematics, 3 writing and 1 experimental without scoring. The current total SAT score ranges from 600 to 2400 based on the sum of scores from three subjects. There is an incorrect answer penalty on the SAT, 1/4 point will be subtracted from the raw score for each incorrect answer (except for math grids).

Key differences
  1. ACT us as a content-based test, while SAT is a reasoning-based test.
  2. There is no penalty for answering incorrectly on the ACT. However, there is an incorrect answer penalty on the SAT which is a ¼ point deduction for each incorrect answer (except for math grids).
  3. ACT duration is 3 hours, 25 minutes (with writing test). The duration of the SAT test is 3 hours and 45 minutes.
  4. ACT has 4 sections while SAT contains 10 sections.
  5. The SAT is taken seven times a year in the months of January, March/April, May, June, October, November, and December. ACT takes place six times a year in the months of February, April, June, September, October, and December.
  6. ACT contains a full science section comprising analysis, interpretation, evaluation, core content, and problem solving, while science is not applicable at all on SAT.
  7. ACT is an achievement test that measures students’ performance in high school, while SAT is an aptitude test that focuses more on testing, reasoning, and verbal skills.

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