Comparison of the SAT and ACT

This is part of a series about the college application process for students with learning disabilities. Other posts include Tips for Writing the College Essay, Making the Most of Summer: Preparing for the College Application Process, and New Guidelines: Standardized Testing Accommodations.

Most colleges accept both SAT and ACT test scores. Use this comparison of the two tests to decide which is best for you or your student.

SAT I ACT
General Information
  • Test length: three hours (plus 50 minutes for optional essay)
  • Students can apply for and be granted up to 100% extended time
  • Two required sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math)
  • One optional section (essay)
  • Test length: three hours, 25 minutes
  • Students can apply for and be granted up to 50% extended time
  • Four required sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science)
  • Optional and recommended writing test.
Scores
  • Score in each subject area can range from 200–800
  • Total score range is from 400–1,600
  • Score of 6–24 for essay
  • Score of 1–36 for each test section
  • Composite score of 1–36 based on average score of the four test sections
Incorrect Answer
  • No deduction for incorrect answers
  • No deduction for incorrect answers
Content
  • Evidence Based-Reading and Writing
  • Math: Arithmetic Through Trigonometry (there is a “no calculator” section)
  • Reading Comprehension
  • English
  • Math: Arithmetic Through Trigonometry
  • Science
  • Optional Essay
Essay
  • Optional
  • Last section of the test
  • Scored on Reading, Analysis, and Writing
  • Scored on a scale of 2–8 on each of these areas
  • Optional
  • Final section of the test
  • Not included in composite score
  • Topic is generally important to high school students
Test Dates

Check out Landmark School’s Transition and Guidance page to learn more about the transition to college and other post-secondary options.

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