SAT VS. ACT Comparisons

Great Resources for Comparison



What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?


The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school.

The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.

The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test.

The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.

The SAT takes off for wrong answers.

The ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers with no penalty for guessing.

ACT questions tend to be more straightforward. ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read.

On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you're being asked before you can start solving the problem. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay):

  • SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?
  • ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?


Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. So which should you take?

It is highly recommended that you take BOTH the SAT and ACT your Junior year.


How to register for the SAT and/or ACT

SAT- Visit Collegeboard.org and create and account. It is super easy and take less than five minutes!! If you qualify for free or reduced lunch you can visit Mr. A and get an application fee waiver!

ACT- Visit ACT.org and create an account. It is super easy and take less than five minutes!! If you qualify for free or reduced lunch you can visit Mr. A and get an application fee waiver!


How do the scores compare?

ACT and the College Board have completed a concordance study that is designed to examine the relationship between two scores on the ACT and SAT. These concordance tables do not equate scores, but rather provide a tool for finding comparable scores.

Click HERE

Talk to the PHS library staff to access SAT/ACT Prep Materials.

We also have graphing calculators available for check out!