Standardized Testing

Preparing for CollegeGrade Checklists | High School Classes | Standardized Tests | Summers

Comparing the ACT and SAT

The ACT and SAT are standardized tests used for college admissions. Make sure to check the requirements and recommendations of colleges you are interested in early on, so you can prepare accordingly.

ACT and SAT

 

ACT

SAT

Testing Agency

ACT

College Board

Test Type

Curriculum- and standards-based test that assesses students’ academic readiness for college.

Focused on the knowledge, skills, and understandings necessary for college and career readiness and success.

Test Sections and Duration

175 minutes excluding writing

English:

Mathematics:

Reading:

Science:

Writing (Optional):

180 minutes excluding breaks

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing:

Reading

Writing and Language

Math:

Essay (Optional):

Scoring

Each section: 1-36 

Composite score: 1-36 (Average of section scores)

Writing: 2-12 

Scoring Information

Each section: 200-800

Total score: 400-1600 (Sum of section scores)

Essay: 2-8

Scoring Information

Scheduling

Registration and Test Dates

Registration and Test Dates

Study Resources

ACT Academy: Access this free, online learning resource with practice tests, videos, and games.


ACT Resources: View webinars, free study guides, and a question of the day.

Khan Academy: Access up to eight free full-length practice exams.


Daily Practice App: Solve one question a day and receive immediate feedback.

Fees and Waivers

$55 or $70 (with Writing)

ACT Fee Waivers and More Fee Information

$52 or $68 (with Essay)

SAT Fee Waivers and More Fee Information

Test Day

What to Bring and Expect

What to Expect and Checklist

Accommodations

Accommodations and English Learner Supports

Special Circumstances and Students with Disabilities

 

SAT Subject, AP, and IB Exams

SAT Subject, AP, and IB Exams are also used for college admissions. These exam scores are sometimes used to give you college-level credit, so always try your best. Some colleges require SAT Subject Tests for specific majors or programs of interest, so be sure to do your research.

SAT Subject, AP, and IB

 

SAT Subject                                              

AP                                                                 

IB

Testing Agency

College Board

College Board

IBO

Test Type

Assesses knowledge of specific subjects. Students choose which tests to take, often based on college majors they are interested in.

Assesses mastery of content of AP subjects. Students choose which tests to take often based on the courses they have taken in school.

Assesses mastery of content of IB subjects. Students choose which tests to take, often in order to earn an IB Diploma.

Test Subjects

20 subjects in five groups: 

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • Languages

38 subjects in seven groups: 

  • Capstone
  • Arts
  • English
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Math and Computer Science
  • Sciences
  • World Languages and Cultures

Various subjects in six groups: 

  • Language and Literature
  • Language Acquisition
  • Individuals and Societies
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • The Arts

Duration

1 hour. May take up to three exams in one day.

2-3 hours. Multiple exams are offered on testing days.

Around 1-3 hours. Multiple exams are offered on testing days.

Scoring

200-800

Scoring Information

1-5

Scoring Information

1-7

Scoring Information

Scheduling

Registration and Test Date

Registration and Test Dates

Test Dates

Study Resources

View each subject for more detailed information.

Find resources for specific courses on Khan Academy. (Example: AP Calculus AB)

Explore previous IB exam prompts.

Fees and Waivers

$26 for registration

$22-$26 for each additional test

More Information

$94-$142

More Information

Fees vary based on the pursued Programme. 

More Information

Test Day

What to Expect

Exam Policies and What to Bring

FAQ

Accommodations

Special Circumstances and Students with Disabilities

Accommodations

Special Assessment Needs PDF

 

Planning Your Testing 

Questions to Ask Yourself

So, which test will you take? Consider the following questions as you decide:

  1. Which format is better suited for you? Take free online practice exams to determine what feels more natural and how you perform.

  2. What are the test requirements or recommendations of the colleges you are interested in? A few competitive colleges require or recommend that you take SAT/ACT with the optional essay/writing sections, or that you take specific SAT Subject Tests.

  3. When are the upcoming test dates? Will you be able to take all required tests in time for the National College Match? (See below for more information.)

Sample Testing Calendar

Having strong test scores available by the end of your junior year will make you a more competitive applicant. Test dates for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests are available throughout the year, but not all tests are available every month. The timeline below will keep you on track to have the test scores you need, on time.

  • Winter and Spring of Junior year: Take the SAT and/or ACT at least once. Remember to consider taking the exam with the optional writing/essay. 

  • Summer: Take any SAT Subject Tests you need to (ideally in subjects you just completed during your junior year). Remember that some schools will require tests in certain subjects. Take the ACT/SAT again or for the first time if you were not able to take it during your junior year.

  • August through October: Take the SAT and/or ACT again if you want to improve your scores. The first test date for the ACT is in September, while the first SAT date is in August. The October SAT will be too late to be considered when QuestBridge selects Finalists for the National College Match, but can be sent directly to the colleges.

November through January: Retake any tests you want to improve your scores on to prepare for Regular Decision. Note that some schools will not accept January test scores.

Other Tips

  • Many colleges will consider your highest score in each section, so taking multiple tests is a good idea.

  • Registration is usually at least one month in advance. Students who register on time and are financially qualified can obtain a fee waiver with help from a counselor (maximum of 2 waivers per testing agency).

  • When registering for the SAT or ACT, you can select four colleges to send scores to for free. This is a good way to show early interest in a college.