Should You Take the SAT or ACT? What’s the Difference?

August 28, 2016, 05:48 PM

Kranse Institute SAT Prep Expert


An important part of college admission is standardized testing. But when it comes to the SAT or ACT, which one should you take? Most, but not all, colleges will accept both the SAT and ACT, but check with the schools on your love list and apply accordingly. We recommend taking both exams to cover your bases. But what’s the difference between the two test? Check out the chart below.


                                       SAT                                                        ACT

Why Take It

Universities use SAT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships. Private scholarships use SAT scores.

Universities use ACT scores for admissions and merit-based scholarships. Private scholarships use ACT scores.


  • Math

  • Reading

  • Writing and Language

  • Essay (optional)

  • Math

  • Reading

  • English

  • Science

  • Essay (optional)


  • 3 hours (without essay)

  • 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)

  • 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)

  • 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)


5 reading passages

4 reading passages



1 science section testing your critical thinking skills (not your specific science knowledge)


  • Arithmetic

  • Algebra I & II

  • Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis

  • Arithmetic

  • Algebra I & II

  • Geometry and Trigonometry


Some math questions don't allow you to use a calculator.

You can use a calculator on all math questions.


Optional essay that tests your comprehension of a source text.

Optional essay that tests how well you evaluate and analyze complex issues.


Scored on a scale of 400-1600

Scored on a scale of 1-36


To speak with a live SAT exam specialist at Kranse Institute, call (800) 893-6652 (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM PST), email , or visit to utilize live chat support.

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