SAT vs ACT: Which Test is Easier and How to Choose the Right Test?


4 mins read38.8K Views
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Sep 5, 2022 14:15 IST

When it comes to the ACT and the SAT, both exams are equally recognized and accepted by Universities. Both are the most popular tests taken by UG applicants to study abroad primarily in the United States of America. These tests are used for college admissions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Students must identify the differences and understand their liking or comfort zone to decide which test is right for them. The content and pattern of both tests are the same, with some exceptions to be highlighted in this article.

Universities accept ACT Scores and SAT Scores for admission to different programs in the world. The colleges compare applicants before offering admission to their university using these scores. Therefore, students normally question the preferences of one test over the other and also which test is easier or will increase their admission prospects. Let’s look at the similarities and differences between the ACT and SAT.





  • Reading
  • Writing and Language
  • Mathematics
  • Essay (Optional)
  • English
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Essay (Optional)

Test Duration

3 hrs. (without essay)

3 hrs., 50 min (with essay)

2 hrs., 55 min (without essay)

3 hrs., 35 min (with essay)

Total Questions




Scored on a scale of 400-1600

Scored on a scale of 1-36

Calculator use

The calculator be used only on some math questions

The calculator be used on all math questions

Mathematics Syllabus

Algebra I and II

Geometry and Trigonometry

Arithmetic/Probability/Data Analysis

Algebra I and II

Geometry and Trigonometry


Reading Syllabus

5 reading Passages

4 reading passages

Science Syllabus

There is none

The Science section on ACT does not test knowledge on any particular science subject. It will test your science-based reasoning and critical thinking abilities.

English or Writing/Language Syllabus



Editing skills

Rhetorical skills


Sentence Structure


The optional essay section of SAT will test your comprehension abilities of a given text.

The optional essay section of ACT will test your analytical and evaluation skills.

Frequency of Test

Held 7 times a year in the US

Held 5 times a year internationally

Held 6 times a year

Test Dates

March, May, October, and December

February, April, June, July, September, and October

Examination Fee

$101 (without essay) international testing fee

$117 (with essay) + international testing fee

For Indian applicants, the fee is around Rs.7,400 – Rs.8,700, depending on exchange rates.

Check SAT official website for fee updates

$150 (without essay) + international testing fee

$166.50 (with essay) + international testing fee

For Indian applicants, the fee is around Rs.11,100 – Rs.12,300, depending on exchange rates.

Check ACT official website for fee updates

What to do if colleges require SAT subject tests?

Almost every top-ranked university recommends taking at least two SAT subject tests. If you have decided to take the ACT and are confused with the SAT subject test requirement, be aware that universities accept the ACT + Writing (Essay) in place of SAT and SAT subject tests. If you are interested to apply to universities requiring SAT subject tests you may submit SAT + 2 subject tests or ACT + Writing (Essay). However, always double-check and confirm the admission requirements by visiting the university websites and communicating with them.

Exam Pattern: ACT vs SAT




Total Questions




·      Reading: 40 questions

·      English: 75 questions

·      Maths: 60 questions

·      Science: 40 questions

·      Reading: 52 questions

·      Writing & Language: 44 questions

·      Maths: 58 questions

Formula Provided



Types of Questions

Evidence-based, “real world” problems, Multi-step problem-solving.

Straightforward, long but easy to comprehend.

Related Reads


Q. Is the ACT easier than the SAT?

A. Universities use ACT and SAT tests as academic measures to check the eligibility of education for admission. They are almost similar in difficulty with a comparable level of challenge.

Q. What do SAT and ACT stand for?

A. The SAT is known as the ‘Scholastic Aptitude Test’ and the ACT Exam is known as ‘American College Testing’. They are the most popular exams accepted by universities in the world for admission.

Q. Are ACT and SAT Math are same?

A. ACT and SAT tests have sections devoted to reading and writing, the ACT has one math and one science section while SAT has two mathematic sections (one with a calculator and one without).

Q. Is SAT reading harder than ACT?

A. The SAT Reading Test is easier in comparison with the ACT Reading Test. For both the SAT and ACT Reading Tests, strong analytical reading skills are compulsory. While the nature of the research varies in both the tests, students must be able to read deeper meaning into the content of both kinds of passages.

Q. How many times can you take SAT?

A. There is no limit to SAT tests, students can take them as many times as they want. In a year, students can take it at least twice—in the spring of their junior year and the fall of their senior year.
About the Author
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert

With a plethora of knowledge of the education domain, Piyush Kohli has been involved with study abroad for over 5 years and counting. He comes with prior experience on the complexities of the study abroad applicatio... Read Full Bio




Sushant Mishra

2 years ago

Hello.I am deeply passionate about pursuing my mechanical engineering undergraduate course at University of Michigan...Should I give SAT subject tests or resort to APs?

Reply to Sushant Mishra


Tuniki Sumanth

2 years ago

Hi all i did my 10+2 in 2014 and want to start my graduation in international business abroad now by 2021 . so can i apply for sat and act or else wt shd i do .

Reply to Tuniki Sumanth


Ayush Bhardwaj

2 years ago

Hey I am Indian student and I have a doubt that can we pursue both tests act and sat pls reply asap

Reply to Ayush Bhardwaj


Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

2 years ago

Dear Ayush, you can give both the SAT and ACT exams.


Ved Pakhale

3 years ago

Hi I am a indian student studying in class 10 I want to persue my education in Georgia institute of technology for aerospace engineering what is preferred at Georgia institute of technology SAT OF ACT

Reply to Ved Pakhale


Ved Pakhale

3 years ago

I am an India and I want to persue my education at Georgia University of technology for aerospace engineering can I know that what Should I take SAT or ACT to get into Georgia University of technology

Reply to Ved Pakhale

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