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.

Please note that the optional SAT Essay and Subject Tests have been discontinued by College Board.





Testing Agency


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





Writing (Optional):

180 minutes excluding breaks

Reading and Writing and Language:


Writing and Language



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)

Scoring Information


Registration and Test Dates

Registration and Test Dates

Study Resources

ACT Free Events: Access free, online ACT events, including live and recorded prep courses.

ACT Prep Resources: Access free practice tests, pop quizzes, and a question of the day.

Khan Academy: Access this free, online resource to build a personalized SAT practice program.

SAT Practice Tests: Access up to eight downloadable full-length practice tests for free.

Fees and Waivers

$68 or $93 (with Writing)

ACT Fee Waivers and More Fee Information


SAT Fee Waivers and More Fee Information

Test Day

What to Bring and Expect

What to Expect and What to Bring


Accommodations and English Learner Supports

Special Circumstances and Students with Disabilities


AP and IB Exams

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. 

Please note that SAT Subject Tests have been discontinued by College Board. 

AP and IB




Testing Agency

College Board


Test Type

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

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


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

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



Scoring Information


Scoring Information


Registration and Test Dates

Test Dates

Study Resources

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

Explore previous IB exam prompts.

Fees and Waivers


More Information

Fees vary based on the pursued Programme. 

More Information

Test Day

Exam Policies and What to Bring



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 the ACT with the optional writing section.

  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 and ACT 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 ACT with the optional writing.

  • Summer: 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.

  • If you are unable to afford to send a score report to a college partner you are interested in and cannot request a fee waiver, reach out to the college's admissions office to inquire about your options. Some college partners may accept unofficial score reports.