Taking the SAT is the best way to show colleges you have the skills and knowledge they want most.
And because you have seven chances each year to test, more time for each question, and access to free practice tools, you’ll see that the SAT offers advantages the ACT doesn't.
Find out other ways the SAT compares to the ACT* before taking your next step to plan for college.
|Widely accepted||All U.S. colleges||Almost all U.S. colleges|
|Major redesign||2016 SAT is based on the latest research on the skills colleges value most.||No recent significant revisions.|
|Tests the vocabulary you’ll use||Yes||Yes|
|Everyday math formulas provided||Yes||No|
|Essay is optional||Yes||Yes|
|Penalty for guessing||No||No|
|Free daily practice questions||Yes, the free mobile app, Daily Practice for the New SAT.||Yes|
|Free comprehensive test practice||Yes, through Khan Academy®, with over 4,000 questions and video lessons.||No|
|Free, downloadable practice tests||Yes||No|
|Mobile app that instantly scores paper tests||Yes, Daily Practice for the New SAT.||No|
|Test days||7 times a year||6 times a year|
|Regular registration deadline||About 4 weeks before test day. You pay a late fee for registering later.||About 5 weeks before test day. You pay a late fee for registering later.|
|Late registration closes||About 11 days before test day||20+ days before test day|
|Benefits and Rules||New SAT||ACT|
|Test fees waived for eligible students||Yes||Yes|
|Waivers cover late fees||Yes||No|
|Four college application fee waivers sent directly to eligible students||Yes||No|
|Structure and Timing||New SAT||ACT|
|Testing time||3 hours
+ 50-minute essay (optional)
|2 hours 55 minutes
+ 40-minute essay (optional)
|Structure||3 tests + optional essay||4 tests + optional writing test|
|Number of questions||154||215|
|Time per question||1 minute, 10 seconds||49 seconds|
|Score range||Composite 400–1600 (SAT Essay: reported in 3 dimensions, each 2–8)||Composite 1–36 (writing domain scores: 2–12)|
|Test length and timing||
Writing and Language Test
*Based on publicly released ACT information as of September 28, 2015.