How many people get perfect ACT results

Your quick and easy guide to the SAT and ACT exams for US universities

Whether you live in the US or the other side of the world, students wishing to attend US college must take either the ACT or SAT exam. Your scores will not only affect the admission decision, but also your chances of receiving merit-based scholarships like athletics scholarships.

Many colleges do not prefer one test over another, and students can choose to take both or just one. Statistics show that in 2019, nearly 2.2 million aspirants completed the SAT while 1.8 million opted for the ACT. The aim of these tests is to assess a student's college readiness and achieve this through various grading systems. Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Let's talk about some basic details

While some facets of SAT and ACT are similar, there are some differences. Although the levels of difficulty are also similar, you can consider the full-length ACT practice test to assess your skills. You will develop an understanding of how you score percentage points and how well you deal with time pressure. If you test your knowledge and identify the questions you are likely to find the most difficult, you have a better chance of preparing yourself well and scoring.

  • Without an essay, the SAT length is typically 3 hours and the ACT is also 2 hours and 55 minutes.
  • Expect to answer 154 questions for the SAT while the ACT has 215 questions.
  • In both the SAT and ACT, you have the option of whether or not to complete the essay part. Although most colleges do not require the essay, it is recommended that you take it. The additional data point can help your application.
  • SAT essays are based on a source text, and the questions test your understanding of the matter in that text. On the other hand, the ACT presents complex problems and tests how well you can evaluate and analyze them.
  • The reading section on the SAT has five sections while the ACT has four.
  • The SAT does not cover scientific knowledge, but the ACT does. This section is intended to test your critical thinking skills, not your specific knowledge of the concepts. As you take the SAT, you should expect to answer science-related questions that were considered throughout the test.
  • Both tests have a math section that covers arithmetic, algebra I and II, trigonometry, and geometry. While the SAT assesses your data analysis skills, the ACT has questions about probability and statistics.
  • The SAT values ​​are calculated from 400 to 1600 while the ACT values ​​are added from 1 to 36. There are graphs that show how these values ​​are roughly compared
  • The cost of the two tests is very similar. The SAT is $ 49.50, but if you choose the optional attachment, you pay $ 64.50. The ACT fee is $ 52.00, $ 68.00 with the attachment.

The SAT divides sections into timed sections, such as the reading test, which lasts 65 minutes, the writing and language test, which lasts 35 minutes, and the 80-minute math section. On the other hand, the ACT has a 35-minute reading test, a 35-minute science test, and an English test that lasts 45 minutes. The math section lasts 60 minutes.

SAT or ACT - your choice as an international student

Your SAT or ACT scores are an important part of your candidacy, and international students will choose the test they want to take based on their proficiency. Some colleges may require additional subject exams. However, submitting your ACT results may allow you to skip this requirement. There are 21 variations to choose from in the subject tests, including four core courses and nine languages.

The core subjects are English literature, history, math and science. If you come from a non-English speaking country and are hoping to complete a youth economic opportunity program, you may need to take the TOEFL® test.

The SAT is the most popular choice internationally. If you would like to take the test in your home country, additional locations and dates may be available. On the other hand, it is known that the ACT is less linguistically focused. If English is not your first language, the ACT's increased emphasis on math and critical thinking can better demonstrate your skills.

You can do the test multiple times

Submitting an application to your preferred college can send the results that will likely give you the maximum chance of getting approval. This system is known as the SAT Score Choice. Some colleges expect you to see all of the results you send. Check the averages of the school you are applying to to increase your chances of winning.

Calculating the SAT score for the 75th percentile for successful candidates will give you an estimate of the expected score. Many colleges publish the average SAT or ACT scores of accepted applicants, so it should be easy to get information. While you have the option of submitting multiple scores, know that the school is "outperforming" your results. They calculate the highest composite score by adding up your highest scores in each section.

Getting good results for your ACT or SAT takes time and careful planning. You may want to start preparing well in advance of submitting college applications and making sure you get impressive results to maximize your chances of getting the coveted spots.

Would you like to study abroad in the United States?

Use our free search engine to find and compare undergraduate and postgraduate programs in schools across the United States!

Find programs


Pocket Prep believes that test prep should be affordable, accessible, and engaging for everyone. For nearly a decade, the Pocket Prep team has been dedicated to providing the most effective, convenient, and engaging test prep for more than 100 standardized exams.