|TEST DATES||Offered six times per school year—September, October, December, February, April, June||Offered seven times per school year—October, November, December, January, March, May, June|
|TEST LENGTH||215 questions plus an optional essay in 3 hours and 25 minutes (includes 30 minutes for the optional Writing section)||140 questions and a required essay in 3 hours and 45 minutes|
|WHAT IS TESTED||The ACT is designed as an achievement test. It assesses a student’s knowledge of the subjects taught in high school.||The SAT is designed as an aptitude test. It measures literacy and writing skills, and it assesses how well a student analyzes and solves problems.|
|MAJOR SECTIONS||Four major sections—English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. A fifth section (Writing) is optional.||Three major sections—Mathematics, Critical Reading, and Writing.|
|SUBJECTS COVERED||English: A 75-question, 45-minute section that measures standard written English and rhetorical skills. Questions are largely focused on grammar, punctuation, and syntax, with less emphasis on vocabulary.|
Mathematics: 60 multiple-choice questions in 60 minutes. A few questions require trigonometry. All of the problems can be solved without a calculator, but you’ll be permitted to use one as long as it’s included on the list of permitted calculators on the ACT website.
Reading: A 40-question, 35-minute test to measure reading comprehension.
Science: A 40-question, 35-minute test that measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences. You aren’t allowed to use a calculator during this section.
Optional Writing Test: A 30-minute optional essay.
|Critical Reading: Includes reading passages and sentence completion, and places more emphasis on vocabulary than the ACT does.|
Mathematics: Multiple-choice questions as well as some that require written answers covering arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability. Trigonometry is not tested. All of the problems can be solved without a calculator, but you’ll be permitted to use one as long as it’s included on the list of permitted calculators on the SAT website.
Writing: A mandatory essay as well as some multiple-choice questions about grammar and word usage.
|LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY||Questions have a fairly constant level of difficulty throughout the test.||Questions tend to become more difficult as the test progresses|
|INCORRECT ANSWER PENALTY||There is no penalty for wrong answers.||A ¼-point penalty is given for each wrong answer except for the grid-in (not multiple choice) questions in the Math section.|