ACT vs. the SAT, both exams are widely accepted by U.S. colleges which one to take is the key. The idea behind both exams is similar: to demonstrate college readiness. But despite similar aims, the tests vary in structure and timing as well as the content matter and scoring. The SAT takes three hours and the ACT lasts two hours and 55 minutes, though the ACT’s 40-minute optional writing test would stretch it to a little more than three and a half hours.

The SAT features 154 questions vs. 215 for the ACT. Broken down by test components, the SAT has a reading test that takes 65 minutes, a 35-minute writing and language test and an 80-minute math section. The ACT consists of a 35-minute reading test, 45-minute English test, 60-minute math section and 35-minute science test.

The SAT does not include an independent science section but incorporates science questions throughout the exam.

The scoring for each test also differs. For the SAT, total scores range from 400-1600; for the ACT, the composite score runs from 1-36. Those ranges do not include the optional ACT writing test, which is scored separately.

The costs of the exams also vary. The SAT costs $52. The ACT costs $55 for only the exam and $70 if the optional writing test is included.

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