Firstly let us start of with a comparison between the tests. The sat is 3 hours long and the act is 2 hours 55 minutes long. Both of these times are excluding breaks and I have also not included the act optional essay into this time . now we see that both the tests are somewhat comparable in length so lets go on to the sections of the test.
The sat has 2 parts which are each divided into 2 smaller sections. The first section the English section of the evidence based reading and writing section has 2 subsections the reading section has 52 questions to be completed in 65 minutes and the writing section has 44 questions which is to be completed in 35 minutes. and the second part of the sat is the math section which has a no calculator and a calculator component. The no calculator section consists of 20 questions in 25 minutes and the calculator section has 38 questions in 55 minutes.
The ACT has 4 sections. The English section has 75 questions to be completed in 45 minutes, the math section has 60 questions to be completed in 60 minutes the reading section has 40 questions to be completed in 35 minutes and the science section has 40 questions to be completed in 35 minutes.
So right of the bat we see that the sat has fewer questions to be answered in the same amount of time
Now lets look the differences in the sections between the sat and the ACT. The sat and the act are similar in their English reading and writing sections the only thing that differs slightly is the time management as the Act English section is a lot more fast paced than the sat.
Now the math section. Even though the sat and the ACT have differences in the ways they categorize and ask the questions all of the concepts and the formulae is the same. The sat has both a no-calculator and a calculator section but the act allows calculators on the complete math section.
Now the science section on the act. Now many students who haven’t taken science majorly in high school shy away from the act because of the science section but the strange thing is only basic introductory knowledge of science is required to answer almost all of the questions on this section. There is no memorization or recall of specific scientific facts or figures and no formula has to be memorized for this section. It is basically a test of your scientific aptitude where everything you need to know to answer the question is given to you on the test
The SAT is scored on a curve relative to the test takers around you and the ACT is scored on a curve based on the difficulty of questions in the test. But this is almost irrelevant as the content on the tests and how you answer the questions is more important than the grading curve The sat is Scored on a scale of 400–1600 where the lowest score you could get is a 400 and the highest is a 1600 and the ACT is Scored on a scale of 1–36 where the lowest score you could get is 1 and the highest is 36
Now that we know the basic information about the sat and the act let me talk about the key differences in the tests. This will help you make a decision on weather you want to take the sat or the ACT
Firstly One of the greatest differences between the ACT English and the SAT Writing and Language sections is that the former contains many more questions.
The ACT English section requires students to answer 75 questions in 45 minutes, which provides students with 36 seconds per question. Contrast this with the SAT Writing and Language section: It contains 44 questions to be answered in 35 minutes, which equates to roughly 48 seconds per question.
So as US news put it very well The ACT benefits students who can read rapidly and efficiently – more passages means more information to review and analyze. Meanwhile, the SAT benefits students who prefer to work more slowly but also more analytically.
If you haven’t got a clear idea of the tests and which one you want to take as yet I suggest taking both of the tests without preparation to see which one you like better and which is easier to score on for you.