ACT vs SAT 2024: Determining the Exam for Easier Score Attainment - Gateway International
E-Shriniketan, Ashok Nagar, Road No. 10, Opposite Lakecity Mall, Udaipur (Raj.), 313001

ACT vs SAT 2024: Determining the Exam for Easier Score Attainment


Despite the recent trend of universities waiving admission test requirements, experts suggest that an exceptional test score can still enhance the appeal of your application. The ACT vs SAT exams are widely accepted for undergraduate admissions in leading educational institutions across the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and other sought-after study abroad destinations.

These test scores play a crucial role in helping colleges assess a student’s aptitude and preparedness for an undergraduate program. Additionally, admission committees use ACT vs SAT scores as a factor when awarding merit-based scholarships at some of the top universities.

ACT vs SAT: Key Differences

Full FormScholastic Assessment TestAmerican College Testing
Introduced In19261959
Administered ByThe College BoardACT, Inc.
Annual Test TakersOver 2 million globallyOver 1.6 million (in the U.S.)
Duration3 hours (plus an optional essay)2 hours and 55 minutes (plus an optional writing test)
Score Range400-16001-36 (composite score)
SectionsEvidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math (Optional Essay)English, Math, Reading, Science (Optional Writing)
Test FeeVaries by countryVaries by country
Frequency of Test7 times a year7 times a year (not all sections available on all test dates)


Both the ACT vs SAT exams are widely acknowledged standardized tests and are commonly a prerequisite for admission to international schools. Particularly in the USA and the UK, many top universities require either an ACT or SAT score.

However, you might wonder about the distinctions between the ACT vs SAT, as well as where, why, and when you should opt for one. Choosing the right exam for your study-abroad plans can be confusing, and various questions may arise. Let’s compare and contrast these exams to help you select the most suitable one for your needs.

What is the ACT Exam?

The ACT, short for American College Testing, serves as a standardized admission test for U.S. universities, assessing undergraduate applicants. Beyond the United States, universities and colleges in countries like the UK, Canada, Germany, and Italy also recognize ACT test scores. Over 200 universities worldwide, outside the USA, accept ACT scores.

In the year 2023, more than 1.38 million individuals took the ACT.

The examination evaluates proficiency in English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, and includes an optional Essay section.

Now, as you requested, here’s the information in a table format:

Test Duration Number of Questions 
English45 minutes75
Mathematics60 minutes60
Reading35 minutes40
Science35 minutes40
Writing (optional)40 minutes1


  • Administered By: ACT, a non-profit organization.
  • Year of Introduction: The ACT exam commenced in 1959.
  • Frequency of Conduct: Conducted seven times annually in Canada and the USA; in other nations, including India, the frequency ranges from 5 to 7 times per year.
  • ACT Score Range: Scores range from 1 (low) to 36 (high).
  • Time Per Section: English section – 45 minutes, Math – 60 minutes, Reading – 35 minutes, Science section – 35 minutes, Optional writing section – 40 minutes.
  • Total Time: 2 hours and 55 minutes without the writing section, and 3 hours and 35 minutes with the writing section.
  • Total Questions: A total of 215 questions, comprising 75 in English, 60 in Math, 40 in Reading, 40 in Science, and 1 optional writing essay.
  • Order of Sections: The ACT exam follows the sequence: English, Math, Reading, Science, and concludes with an optional writing section.

ACT Test Fee: 

Test OptionACT without WritingACT with Writing
Test StructureSame as standard ACT, excluding the writing sectionIncludes the standard ACT plus the optional writing section
Test Duration2 hours and 55 minutes3 hours and 35 minutes
SectionsEnglish, Math, Reading, ScienceEnglish, Math, Reading, Science, Optional Writing
Score Range1 (low) to 36 (high)1 (low) to 36 (high)
Late RegistrationAvailableAvailable
Test Date/Centre ChangeOption to add or remove the writing sectionOption to add or remove the writing section
Additional Score Reports (table generate)AvailableAvailable

Note: The given figures are under a conversion rate of 1 USD = 83.13 INR.

When applying for the ACT, you have the option to select up to four colleges to receive your test reports, and this cost is covered within your exam registration fee. However, if you wish to send your test report to more than four colleges, an additional score report fee is required for each additional institution.

Upcoming test dates for ACT:

Test dates for ACT 2024Application Deadline
23-24 February 202426 January 2024
12-13 April 202415 March 2024
7-8 June 202410 May 2024
12-13 July 202414 June 2024

What is the SAT Exam?

The SAT, or Scholastic Assessment Test, is a standardized exam used for college admission in the USA. In addition to the United States, many other countries, including the UK, Canada, and Australia, also consider SAT scores in their admissions processes. All four-year universities in the USA utilize the SAT for undergraduate admissions.

In the year 2023, over 1.9 million students took the SAT.

The test evaluates your aptitude and potential to enroll in a university program. It assesses your language skills, critical reading abilities, and mathematical aptitude.

The test components are below:

Component DurationNumber of Questions
Writing and Language3544
  • Administered By: The College Board oversees the administration of the SAT exam.
  • Year of Introduction: The SAT exam was first introduced in 1926.
  • Frequency of Conduct: The SAT exam is conducted seven times annually.
  • SAT Score Range: Scores on the SAT range from 400 to 1600.
  • Time Per Section: The SAT allocates 65 minutes for the Reading section, 35 minutes for the Writing and Language section, and 80 minutes for the Math section. The Math section is further divided into a 55-minute calculator portion and a 25-minute non-calculator portion.
  • Total Time: The SAT exam has a total duration of 3 hours.
  • Total Questions: There are a total of 154 questions, distributed as follows: 52 in the Reading section, 44 in the Writing and Language section, and 58 in the Mathematics section. The Math section consists of 38 questions for the calculator portion and 20 for the non-calculator portion.
  • Order of Sections: The SAT exam includes sections in the following order: Reading, Writing & Language, Math without a calculator, and Math with a calculator.
  • Types of Questions: The majority of questions are multiple-choice, with a few mathematical problems called grid-ins. There are 8 grid-in questions in the calculator portion and 5 in the non-calculator portion.
  • Marking System: There is no negative marking for incorrect answers, encouraging attempts at most questions.
  • SAT Test Fee: The SAT registration fee is $60 (INR 4,988) plus a $43 (INR 3,574) regional fee, resulting in a total cost of $103 (INR 8,562).

Upcoming  March – June test dates for SAT:

Test dates for SAT 2024Application Deadline
9 March 202423 February 2024
4 May 202419 April 2024
1 June 202416 May 2024


The anticipated test dates for the August-December period are below:

  • August 24, 2024
  • October 5, 2024
  • November 2, 2024
  • December 7, 2024

ACT vs SAT: Major Differences

Act Vs SAT

Type of Questions:

  • In the SAT, there are fewer questions, allowing more time per question. The test includes both multiple-choice questions and grid-in questions.
  • The ACT has a greater number of questions, but less time is assigned per question. ACT questions are text-based and consist solely of multiple-choice questions, with an optional essay.


  • For the SAT, the registration fee is $60 (INR 4,988), with an additional $43 (INR 3,574) regional fee, totaling $103 (INR 8,562). The late fee for the SAT exam is $30 (INR 2,494).
  • For the ACT, the registration fee is $206.50 (INR 1,717) with the writing section and $181.50 (INR 15,097) without.

Test Scores:

  • SAT scores range from 400 to 1600, while ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The total score is the average of all section scores.
  • A competitive SAT score for top colleges abroad is generally between 1200 and 1600, while most top-tier universities seek an ACT score between 27 and 32.


  • ACT vs SAT score conversion can provide a comparative overview of scores between the two tests.

ACT Vs SAT Composite Score:

ACTSAT Composite Score
36 ACT Score1570 to 1600 SAT Score
35 ACT Score1530 to 1560 SAT Score
34 ACT Score1490 to 1520 SAT Score
33 ACT Score1450 to 1480 SAT Score
32 ACT Score1420 to 1440 SAT Score
31  ACT Score1390 to 1410 SAT Score
30  ACT Score1360 to 1380 SAT Score
29  ACT Score1330 to 1350 SAT Score
28  ACT Score1300 to 1320 SAT Score
27  ACT Score1260 to 1290 SAT Score
26  ACT Score1230 to 1250 SAT Score
25 ACT Score1200 to 1220 SAT Score
24  ACT Score1160 to 1190 SAT Score
23  ACT Score1130 to 1150 SAT Score
22  ACT Score1100 to 1120 SAT Score
21  ACT Score1060 to 1090 SAT Score
20  ACT Score1030 to 1050 SAT Score
19  ACT Score990 to 1020 SAT Score
18  ACT Score960 to 980 SAT Score
17  ACT Score920 to 950 SAT Score
16  ACT Score880 to 910 SAT Score
15  ACT Score830 to 870 SAT Score
14  ACT Score780 to 820 SAT Score
13  ACT Score730 to 770 SAT Score
12  ACT Score690 to 720 SAT Score
11  ACT Score650 to 680 SAT Score
10  ACT Score620 to 640 SAT Score
9  ACT Score590 to 610 SAT Score


Essay Requirement: The essay requirements for both the SAT and ACT are optional. Numerous top colleges may request an ACT vs SAT essay as part of the admission process. Both exams effectively evaluate the language skills of the candidates.

Math Section:

  • The SAT math section is divided into two parts — one with a calculator and one without, constituting approximately 50% of the SAT score. It covers topics such as arithmetic, geometry, algebra I & II, trigonometry, and data analysis.
  • In contrast, the ACT has a single math section that permits calculator use and makes up only 25% of the ACT score. The math questions encompass arithmetic, algebra I & II, geometry, trigonometry, and probability & statistics.

Science Section:

  • The SAT lacks a dedicated section to evaluate a candidate’s scientific aptitude.
  • The ACT includes an entire section devoted to Science.

Command of Evidence Questions:

  • Both ACT vs SAT exams have a category assessing the reading skills of candidates. The SAT exam incorporates additional ‘command of evidence’ questions, which rely on answers to previous questions.


  • The reading section evaluates the vocabulary and comprehension skills of candidates. The SAT exam comprises five reading passages, while the ACT has four reading passages.

Choosing ACT or SAT: Key Points to Consider

Determining the better test for your undergraduate admissions can vary based on individual factors such as strengths, weaknesses, interests, and more.

Compare the tests:

Essay RequirementOptionalOptional
Math SectionDivided into two parts: with and without a calculator. Covers arithmetic, geometry, algebra I & II, trigonometry, and data analysis. Contributes to 50% of the total score.Single math section with a calculator. Covers arithmetic, algebra I & II, geometry, trigonometry, and probability & statistics. Contributes to 25% of the total score.
Science SectionNo dedicated science section.Dedicated Science section.
Command of Evidence QuestionsIncludes additional ‘command of evidence’ questions that rely on answers to previous questions.Assesses reading skills but lacks ‘command of evidence’ questions.
ReadingConsists of five reading passages.Comprises four reading passages.
Time per QuestionOffers more time per question in all sections.Provides lesser time per question.
MathematicsMathematics section may be more time-pressured.Includes matrix, logs, and trigonometry.
ScienceDoes not have a separate science section.Has a dedicated Science section.
Math ContentMore weightage for algebra and data analysis.Includes matrix, logs, and trigonometry.
Reading DifficultyReading questions are generally considered easier to follow and answer.Considered to have more challenging reading questions.
Essay SectionNo essay section.Optional essay section.

Remember, the choice between ACT vs SAT depends on individual preferences, strengths, and other factors.

Both the ACT vs SAT aim to assess students’ readiness and proficiency in critical areas, including reading comprehension and problem-solving. These skills are deemed essential for success in college. The primary purpose of both exams is to demonstrate a student’s preparedness for higher education.

Other common comparisons you might encounter include:

  • GMAT vs CAT
  • IELTS vs PTE

in Summery

The debate between ACT vs SAT is subjective, given their similar test fees, formats, durations, and study materials. Many students choose to take both exams to enhance their chances of admission to top colleges.

The significance of both ACT vs SAT exams is considerable, with the choice between them resting entirely on the student’s personal preference.

Several prestigious universities abroad that accept SAT scores include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • California Institute of Technology

Meanwhile, ACT scores are accepted by:

  • Yale University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Northwestern University

However, recognizing the evolving landscape, over 1,900 four-year colleges, as per the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, have declared themselves test-optional or test-blind for fall 2024. This adjustment aims to accommodate eligible students properly.

If you find yourself still uncertain about admission tests, preferred universities, or other details, it’s advisable not to delay further. Gateway International can assist you in navigating the admission process and provide guidance on competitive exams for admission to universities abroad.