How is ACT Different from SAT?
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How is ACT Different from SAT?

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Aishwarya
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Feb 24, 2023 19:42 IST
How is ACT Different from SAT?

ACT and SAT are both standardized tests which are conducted to assess the knowledge and understanding of high school pass-outs applying for admissions abroad. Since most US universities and even Canadian universities prefer assessing international undergrads through ACT or SAT scores, it makes it mandatory for students to choose between ACT and SAT 

ACT and SAT are very different from each other in terms of scoring, pattern, syllabus, testing modules and even mode of conduction. While ACT is a longer duration test, SAT has shortened its testing duration only recently in 2023 and has switched from offline mode to digital mode of testing. Check out New SAT Format 2023: Difference Between Old and New SAT Format 

ACT vs SAT Highlights 

What are ACT & SAT 

Standardized Tests 

Accepted for 

Undergraduate admissions abroad 

Accepted in Countries of  

USA, Canada, Australia and the UK 

Tests  

High school knowledge  

Major Subjects Tested 

Math & English 

How many attempts for ACT annually? 

12 

Total attempts for SAT annually 

7 

Assessments at universities  

Made unbiased despite ACT or SAT score submission 

How is ACT Different from SAT? 

Though both ACT and SAT are standardized tests aiming to assess high school student’s knowledge in various subjects of Maths and English, yet ACT varies greatly with the new Digital SAT exam which is set to conduct its first exam on March 11. Check out how ACT differs from SAT: 

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  • ACT assesses students in not just English and Maths like SAT, there are also sections of Sciences and an optional essay writing section as well. 
  • ACT is conducted in offline mode while the new Digital SAT is going digital in March 2023, there are no more offline exams happening. 
  • The ACT exam is conducted on paper while SAT Digital will be conducted on students’ own laptops, Chromebooks or iPads but with an internet connection at the  SAT’s test centre. 
  • Though SAT Digital has reduced its test hour by an hour, ACT still has a longer duration of testing in comparison to SATs. 
  • ACT has lesser breaks between its different sections there is a 10-minute break in between the Reading & Math section and another 5 minutes before attempting the Writing section. SAT gives a 10-minute break after each module of each section.  
  • While the ACT MCQs are marked on OMR sheets, there is meagre scope for making changes multiple times, in comparison to SAT Digital where responses can be altered. 
  • ACT scores and results are released within a few weeks while SAT scores and results are released within a couple of days. 
  • Lastly, it is believed that ACT is a more curriculum-based test whereas SAT moreover tests the student’s aptitude. 

So those international students who have confidence in the ACT syllabus more than SAT syllabus can opt for appearing for the ACT exam.  

ACT vs SAT Common Parameters 

In continuation to the above section, the following section throws more light on the important aspects of ACT and SAT, which may help students in choosing ACT or SAT: 

Parameters  

ACT Exam 

SAT Digital Exam 

Taken by Students in 2022 

1.35 million 

1.7 million 

Conducting Body 

ACT  

College Board 

Full Form 

American College Testing 

Scholastic Assessment Test 

Registration Fees for Indian Students 

ACT Registration Fee: INR INR 4,835.25 (without writing) 

INR INR 6,754 (with writing) 

SAT Registration Fee: INR 8,608.38 

Exam Duration 

3 hours 35 minutes 

2 hours 14 minutes 

Mode of Conduction 

Pen and paper 

Digital  

Exam Syllabus 

English Math Science Reading Writing (Optional) 

Reading & Writing (RW) Maths 

Overall Score 

1 - 36 

400 - 1600 

Scores Released 

Within 2 weeks 

Within 10 - 13 days 

Read more about: 

Similarities in the ACT and SAT Exam 

Despite numerous differences between the two standardized tests for undergraduate exams, there are still a few commonalities between the ACT and the SAT, read the following section for more details: 

  • Both ACT and SAT are tested at test centres despite one being offline and the other being online respectively. Read about: ACT Test Centres 
  • Both ACT and SAT test students in Math and English subjects. 
  • There are MCQs with four options in all sections of the ACT and SAT. 
  • Also, calculators for the Math sections of both the ACT and SAT are allowed during the exams. 
  • Students submitting either ACT or SAT would be assessed unbiased and will be treated equally to each other. 

ACT vs SAT Score Conversions 

Since ACT is considered equivalent to SAT, students who submit either of the test scores can qualify in the following range: 

ACT Composite Score 

SAT Digital Score Range

ACT Composite Score 

SAT Digital Score Range 

36 

1600 

35 

1560-1590 

34 

1520-1550 

33 

1490-1510 

32 

1450-1480 

31 

1420-1440 

30 

1390-1410 

29 

1350-1380 

28 

1310-1340 

27 

1280-1300 

26 

1240-1270 

25 

1200-1230 

24 

1160-1190 

23 

1130-1150 

22 

1100-1120 

21 

1060-1090 

20 

1020-1050 

19 

980-1010 

18 

940-970 

17 

900-930 

16 

860-890 

15 

810-850 

14 

760-800 

13 

720-750 

12 

630-710 

11 

560-620 

10 

640-620 

09 

610-590 

Check out: SAT Cutoff 

In the end, it's up to the students which exam suits them the most in terms of their previous knowledge. If the student’s Science and Maths are strong, they can think of appearing for the ACT and those who have strong points in the aptitude section can apply for the SAT exam.

About the Author
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Written by
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

Aishwarya is a professional Writer currently working as a Study Abroad Expert in the Editorial Team at Shiksha. She has over 5 years of experience and is skilled at creating Online Content with leveraged knowledge i... Read Full Bio

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