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SAT vs. ACT: Choosing the Right Exam for College Admissions in 2024

SAT vs. ACT: Choosing the Right Exam for College Admissions in 2024

SAT and ACT are standardized entrance tests for admissions into undergraduate programs in colleges and universities, primarily in the United States and Canada. These two exams are a common part of the admission process to evaluate the knowledge and aptitude of applicants. 

The SAT and ACT entrance tests are similar, and colleges and universities accept both scores. However, they are different in certain aspects. Understanding the differences allows applicants to make the right choice to get a good SAT or ACT score to get into their colleges of choice. 

You can read this article on the differences between the SAT and ACT to choose the right exam for college admissions in 2024. 

An Overview of the SAT and ACT Exams

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, commonly known as SAT, is conducted by the College Board. The American Testing Test, commonly known as ACT, is conducted by ACT, Inc. 

These admission tests are necessary for international students to join undergraduate programs in the United States and Canada. The main purpose of these tests is to assess the knowledge, aptitude, critical thinking, analytical skills, and overall college readiness of the applicants. 

The scores of the SAT and ACT tests determine your chances of getting into your dream college abroad. These tests not only guarantee admission into colleges and universities but also determine the chances of getting merit scholarships. 

Both tests are widely accepted by colleges and universities in the United States. One test does not give preference over the other when considering applications. It’s also quite common for applicants to attempt both tests for more college and university options to choose from. 

The Differences Between SAT and ACT Exams

The SAT and ACT exams are similar in many ways due to their main purpose of assessing applicants for their skills and knowledge to provide admission and scholarships into various American colleges. However, they differ based on many aspects, such as the total number of questions, the structure of the test, the scoring system, the fees, etc. 

You can consider the following differences to make a choice. Consider the syllabus, sections, time constraints, your prior knowledge and skills, and your strengths and weaknesses for a good score on the test. Practice tests for SAT and ACT can also help you decide which exam is right for you based on your performance. 

The following are the areas of differences between the SAT and ACT tests to help you choose the right exam for college admissions in 2024 —

The Sections of the Test

The SAT exam is divided into two sections, which include — 

  • Reading and Writing 
  • Maths

The ACT exam is divided into four sections, which include —

  • English 
  • Math
  • Reading 
  • Science
  • Writing (Optional)

The Structure of the Test

The structure of the test includes the total number of questions in each of the sections along with the amount of time allocated for applications to complete the respective sections within –

The SAT exam pattern includes 154 questions divided into two sections: 

The Reading and Writing Section – 54 questions in 64 minutes

The Math Section – 44 questions in 70 minutes

The ACT exam pattern includes 215 questions divided into four sections:

The Reading Section – 40 questions in 35 minutes

The English Section – 75 questions in 45 minutes

The Math Section – 60 questions in 60 minutes 

The Science Section – 40 questions in 35 minutes

The Essay Section (Optional) – 40 minutes

The Section Scores of the Test

The scores given for the two sections in the SAT test are between the ranges of –

The Math Section: 200 – 800

Evidence-Based Reading & Writing: 200 – 800

The scores given for the four sections in the ACT test are between the ranges of –

The Reading Section: 1 – 36

The English Section: 1 -36

The Math Section: 1 – 36

The Science Section: 1 – 36

The Overall Scoring Range and Composite Scores of the Test

The SAT score you receive after the test will be between a scale of 400 to 1600. The composite score test is calculated based on the sum of the two broad sections – Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. 

The ACT score you receive after the test will be between a scale of 1 to 36. The composite score of the test is calculated based on the average of the four sections – Reading, English, Math, and Science. This is rounded to the nearest whole number. 

The ACT test with the optional essay section won’t affect your composite score. The essay is graded separately from the other sections of the ACT test. The score for the essay will appear under the English Language Arts (ELA) part of your final report and is an additional score.

The Duration of the Test

The duration of the SAT test is 2 hours and 14 minutes. 

The duration of the ACT test without the essay section is 2 hours and 55 minutes, and the ACT test with an essay section is 3 hours and 35 minutes. 

The Dates and Frequency of the Test

The SAT exam is held in March, May, June, October, and December every year. The entrance test is held seven times a year for international students. 

The ACT exam is held in February, April, June, July, September, and October every year. The entrance test is held six times a year for international students. 

The Fees for the Test

The international testing fee for Indian applicants opting for the SAT test is $103, which is around 8588 INR approx.

The international testing fee for Indian applicants opting for the ACT test with the essay option is $176.50, which is around 14,718 INR approx. The test with the option of the essay section includes an additional fee of $25 (2,084) along with the $176.50 fee, which is around 16,802 INR approx. 

Conclusion 

SAT and ACT are important exams for admission into American colleges or universities. It’s necessary to consider the differences to make an informed decision after considering your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, etc.

Choosing the right exam for college admissions in 2024 can help you achieve a good score to get into your dream college and open the doors for your career. 

Content Team

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