Which Is Easier, the SAT or the ACT?

As you all know, the SAT and ACT are highly recommended and very important tests and are considered to make the application look better in order to apply for a college. But, there arises a lot of confusion when it comes tow hich is easier, the SAT or the ACT. This article helps you find a solution.

TCM Staff

21st August 2020

As you all know, the SAT and ACT are highly recommended and very important tests and are considered to make the application look better in order to apply for a college. 

It is no big surprise that students often query, “Which is easier, the SAT or the ACT?” and the short and quick answer to this question is “It all depends”.

It is certainly a tricky question to answer as the ease of these tests mainly depends on one’s skills, preferences, and interests. You can take both the tests as well to get experience and knowledge of what sort of questions might be asked. 

Thus, we will give you certain important differences and questions to ask yourselves and then decide which test you should be taking. 

Major Differences between SAT and ACT

Both the tests are meant to evaluate students’ performances and let them know details regarding the college and scholarships but there are certain main important differences between them which are further discussed.

  • Subjects included in the SAT are reading, math, writing comprehension, and essay (optional) whereas in the ACT are English, math, reading, science, writing, essay(optional) are covered.

  • The total time given to take the SAT is 3 hours 15 minutes without the essay and 4 hrs 7 minutes with essay including all the breaks whereas for the ACT, it is 3 hours 5 minutes without the essay and 3 hrs 50 minutes with essay.

  • For SAT, the fee is $49.50 and $64.50 with Essay but for the ACT, it is $52 and $68 with Writing.

Important Questions to ask yourself

Here is a set of questions you must ask yourself in order to know which test is more suitable and easier for your requirements. 

You can even consider this as a survey and keep answering each one of these questions and by the end, you will have a clear picture of which test you should be taking up considering the ease.

Which state do you live in?  

It may not be the main reason but it can be considered as an indirectly related aspect as many universities in different states will require to write a specific test and only those will be taken into count. 

  • It’s not uncommon for some states to use these tests as a part of their state-wide testing.

  • States that use the ACT in statewide testing are Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, and more.

  • States that use the SAT in statewide testing are Connecticut, District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Delaware, Illinois, and more.

  • States that use either the ACT or SAT are Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, and more. 

Which of the math concepts are you expert at?

  • It is no huge secret that both these tests have math sections in common. But the topics covered under this section might be different. 

  • The SAT is more of algebra and data analysis. Since there is no science section on the SAT, all the questions on interpreting graphs and data sets are by default included in the math section. 

  • Trigonometry and geometry questions account for less than 10% of the SAT math section. 

  • The ACT math section consists of geometry and trigonometry questions. 

Are You a fan or not a fan of Science?

  • It is an advantage for those of you who want to take up SAT as there is no science section in it but it is not the same when it comes to ACT. 

  • The science section of the ACT is not optional. If Science was a struggle of yours during high school then you might want to avoid the ACT. The science section on the ACT is actually less about actual science and more about scientific reasoning skills.

  • Although you will not be asked to remember the periodic table or to design a hypothetical experiment, it will definitely be helpful in this section of the test. 

  • If you’re familiar with scientific terminology and are comfortable thinking in those terms, you will have an intuitive advantage. 

Will you be able to manage the time allotted?

  • As discussed in the differences, the ACT gives less time than the SAT. This means that if you struggle with answering questions quickly then the SAT could benefit you more. 

  • Time management during the test is very important.

  • Most of the sections in the ACT have shorter overall time allotments. So if you struggle with longer concentration, or get fatigued by longer sections then the ACT may be better for you.

Are You a  specialist in Grammar?

Generally, the ACT English section and the SAT Writing and Language section both evaluate the same skills, but there are a few key differences.

  • The most prominent differentiating factor is apparently the ACT places on grammar and punctuation.

  • Also, the SAT also includes few questions about grammar and punctuation but its focus is more precisely on a writer’s way of choices and specific writing style. 

  • The SAT also tests your knowledge of vocabulary.


As we have discussed earlier, you can definitely take up both the tests. But we are sure it will be of good help indeed. The ease of the test depends on you, your idea of career, skill, and state of mind. 

To conclude, here are a few points mentioned which will be helpful,

  • Along with the differences, there are few common things- both tests can be retaken and there is no negative marking for both of them.

  • If you are struggling with time management, it is better to take up the SAT as it gives more time compared to ACT.

  • If you shine at geometry and trigonometry, your strengths are highly remarked by the ACT and if you shine in algebra and data analysis, it will be highlighted on SAT. 

  • It depends on your knowledge, so make a choice wisely.

  • On the SAT, you will be given a sheet with math formulas, but you will have to memorize those formulas for the ACT.

  • If at all science is your strength, you can take up ACT.

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