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All students aspiring to study in the USA start their college preparation process by comparing the ACT and SAT tests. There are a lot of similarities between the two exams; they cover the same topics, both are used for college admissions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not prefer one test over the other. Neither the SAT nor ACT is harder than the other. The decision to take either depends solely upon individual choice, personal preference and level of difficulty. In this blog, we will compare the ACT vs SAT exam and find out the differences between them. 

Also Read: SAT vs JEE: Which is tougher?

What is ACT VS SAT?

The American College Testing is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. It is a multiple-choice test administered by a non-profit organisation called ACT. The purpose of the test is to measure a high school student’s readiness for college and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. College admissions officers will review standardized test scores alongside your high school GPA, the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, and personal essays. How important ACT scores are in the college application process varies from school to school.

The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test. The SAT is a standardized test for admissions to top universities in the United States. It is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a non-profit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still administers the exam. SAT(Scholastic Assessment Test) is an international entrance exam for seeking admissions in different international colleges and universities. It is administered by the College Board. There are two types of SAT exams: SAT 1 and SAT 2. The former is for general programmes while the latter is for specific programmes and the duration of each exam is 3 hours and 1 hour respectively.

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Also Read: Universities Accepting Backlogs in USA


Students who are planning to take the ACT exam this year, should check out the registration window to apply for the ACT. The test is being held in both computer-based and paper mode. The ACT test can be taken to apply for admissions in undergraduate courses at universities abroad. There are 3 ways to register for ACT test:

  • Registering Online for ACT
  • Registering via mail for ACT
  • Registering for Standby Admittance for ACT

 Go through the detailed procedure for all three methods and circle out one of them as per your convenience in order to register for the ACT test.

For SAT the registration can be done online by visiting the website. Then create a college account and after successfully creating your College Board account, give your personal details. Then create your student profile.

Explore: USA Universities Accepting Low IELTS scores

Exam Pattern: ACT vs SAT

Total Questions 215 154
Section Breakdown Reading : 40 questions
English: 75 questions
Maths: 60 questions
Science: 40 questions
Reading: 52 questions
Writing and Language: 44 questions
Maths : 58 questions
Formula Provided No Yes
Types of Questions Evidence-based, “real world” problems, Multi-step problem solving. Straightforward, long but easy to comprehend.

Read: Universities in USA Accepting 3-year Degrees 

Exam Fees: ACT vs SAT

For an international student, the basic fee will be $46 – $58 without an essay and $60- $93 with essay type exam. ACT with no writing component costs $46, whereas ACT with a writing component costs $62.50. However, there is an additional international testing fee of $57.50

In India, ACT costs something around INR 6, 000 – 7,700 depending on the dollar rate.

SAT Registration costs between USD 52.50 to USD 101.50 depending upon the country. For Indian applicants, the fee for SAT comes out to be ~$106 (with written essay), or ~$94 (without essay). In INR, the SAT exam fee is around Rs. 6,200 – 7,000.

Good score: ACT vs SAT

  • A Good SAT score is 1400 – 1500.
  • A Good score on the ACT is 31 – 35.

College accepting these exams: ACT vs SAT


Many colleges accept ACT scores. Some are:-

  •  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  •  Stanford University, Stanford
  • University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield
  •  Auburn University, Auburn
  •   Harvard University, Cambridge
  •  California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
  • Dartmouth College, Hanover
  •  Yale University, New Haven
  •  Florida International University, Miami
  • University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • University of Dayton, Dayton
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • Adelphi University, New York
  • American University, Washington D.C.
  • University of the Pacific, Stockton
  • University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake
  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • University of Chicago, Chicago
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh


Many colleges accept SAT scores. Some colleges are:

Which Is Easier, the SAT or ACT?

Which test should you take if both are equally difficult? Consider where your inherent talents lie first. The ACT is typically preferred by pupils who excel in writing, reading, and oral communication. The SAT is preferred by those who are better in arithmetic. To increase your chances of getting a good score, you should take the simpler test. Some claim that the ACT is simpler because the total score is lower. Universities compare students using both examinations as academic indicators. They present a comparable level of challenge and are equivalent in difficulty. Most colleges would vouch for this by asserting that both tests are equally difficult.

Excellent Math Skills
A math formula guide is provided to help with the problems on the SAT math test, which is divided into a calculator- and non-calculator-friendly section. These components make up nearly half of your overall SAT score.

Only the calculator portion, which makes up roughly 25% of the overall score on the ACT, is available. It could be wiser to take the ACT if math is not your strongest subject.

Practice the two exams
Try taking a SAT or ACT practise exam if you’re still not sure which test you should take. Compare your results, how you responded to the questions, and which one you thought was simpler.

Take the two exams
It is perfectly acceptable to take both exams. This requires you to prepare for both tests, but it also allows you to submit your best score. Although you are allowed to retake the tests, universities advise against doing so more than three times.

Check Out: List of Universities Accepting SAT scores


Why SAT is important?

SAT scores are required to take admission to colleges in the USA and Canada. Now, several colleges in India have also started using SAT scores as entry criteria for giving admission to undergraduate courses.

Can SAT test be taken at home?

No, SAT can’t be taken at home, candidates need to register for it and book a slot and need to go to the test center to attempt it.

Do colleges prefer SAT or ACT?

There is no preference by colleges when it comes to selecting students based on their entrance/standardized test marks. This is a myth that good colleges prefer SAT over the ACT, however, universities accept both standardized tests.

Will ACT be screening students admitted to test?

Yes. Examinees will be asked the following health and wellness questions during check-in. If an examinee affirms any of the following, they will not be admitted and may make a test date change at no cost.

This was all about SAT vs ACT. Both are both extremely competitive and tough exams given by millions of students every year for higher education. If you are someone who wants to know which exam is right for you, then sign up for a free session with our experts at Leverage Edu and find out where your excellence lies. Follow us on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram.

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