ACT

What is the ACT?
The ACT is designed to test what (American) students have learned in high school.

What is in the ACT?
Four Sections:

  • One multiple-choice English section based on English grammar and conventions

  • One multiple-choice Math section with calculator

  • One multiple-choice Reading section based on reading comprehension

  • One multiple-choice Science section based on data interpretation

Optional Fifth Section:

  • One Essay, making an argument based on a prompt

How long is the ACT?
2 hours and 55 minutes (without Essay) + 40 minutes (with Essay) + 15 minutes of breaks

How is the ACT scored?
The ACT is scored out of 36.
Each section is scored out of 36, and the average of the four scores is the final score.
The Essay is scored out of 12.

What format is the ACT?
Since October 2018, the ACT is now a computer-based test. However, if a student requires extra time or special consideration, then they will still do the test with paper and pencil.

How long has the ACT been around?
The ACT has been going since 1959, with some changes over time.

How often is the ACT run?
The ACT is offered internationally six times a year, in September, October, December, February, April, and June.

Upcoming Test Dates:

Test Dates Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
April 12th-13th March 8th April 5th
June 7th-8th May 17th May 31st
July 13th June 21st June 28th
September 13th-14th TBC TBC
October 11th-12th TBC TBC
December 13th-14th TBC TBC
February 7th-8th (2020) TBC TBC
April 3rd-4th (2020) TBC TBC
June 12th-13th (2020) TBC TBC

SAT

What is the SAT?
The SAT is designed to test what (American) students have learned in high school, and their readiness for college.

What’s in the SAT?
Four Sections:

  • One multiple-choice Reading section based on reading comprehension

  • One multiple-choice Writing section based on English grammar and conventions

  • One non-calculator Math section, mostly multiple choice, some grid-in answers

  • One calculator Math section, mostly multiple choice, some grid-in answers

Optional Fifth Section:

  • One Essay, analysing an argumentative passage

How long is the SAT?
3 hours (without Essay) + 50 minutes (with Essay)

How is the SAT scored?
The SAT is scored out of 1600.
There are 800 points available for Reading and Writing combined, and 800 points for the Math sections combined.
The Essay is scored out of 12.

What format is the SAT?
The SAT is still taken with paper and pencil.

How long has the SAT been around?
The SAT has been going since 1926. However, the new SAT began in March 2016.

How often is the SAT run?
The SAT is offered internationally four times a year, in October, December, March, and May.

Upcoming Test Dates:

2019 Test Dates Registration Late Registration
March 9th February 8th February 27th
May 4th April 5th April 24th
October 5th (TBC) September 6th (TBC) TBC
December 7th (TBC) November 1st (TBC) TBC

SAT vs ACT

ACT SAT
Reading ACT Reading requires students to read and answer questions quickly. However, the passages and the questions are very straightforward. SAT Reading gives students more time than the ACT. However, the passages and questions are much more difficult. This is the main reason we believe most students should take the ACT.
Math ACT Math requires students to work at a fast pace, and the questions become more difficult throughout the section. SAT Math gives students more time than the ACT, and the questions are slightly easier. However, there is both a non-calculator section, and some non-multiple-choice questions.
Science The ACT has a standalone Science section, mostly involving data interpretation. However, it requires little to no prior scientific knowledge. The SAT does not have a standalone Science section. Instead, there are some data interpretation questions spread throughout the Writing and Reading sections.
English/Writing ACT English is slightly faster paced than the SAT Writing section. However, the questions are slightly more straightforward, and do not require such a high-level of English comprehension. SAT Writing is slighly slower paced than the ACT English section. However, the questions require a slightly higher level of English comprehension.
Essay The ACT Essay is optional. It requires students to respond to a prompt, arguing their case for a particular point of view. In our experience, it is more straightforward than the SAT Essay. The SAT Essay is optional. It requires students to analyse an argumentative essay, demonstrating how the writer builds their argument. In our experience, this is more difficult than the ACT Essay.
Practice Tests The ACT has a huge bank of previous tests, as the test has not changed in style since it was created. While more recent papers have become somewhat harder, we find the backlog of papers provide ample material for students to practice. The SAT has released 8 full-length papers, and there are a few further papers available online. At the moment, we feel there is only the bare minimum of practice tests available.
Test Dates The ACT runs the test internationally 6 times a year, more frequently than the SAT. We also find that the ACT dates fit better with the Indian school year and exam times. The SAT runs the test internationally 4 times a year. However, the March and May dates often clash with school exams.