Differences Between SAT and ACT Revealed As More Students Take Tests

August 6, 2013 

More students across the country are taking the SAT and ACT, according to an article in the New York Times. An increasing number of students are taking both tests, in an effort to provide the best score possible to college admissions departments. Last year, 1,666,017 students completed the ACT and 1,664,479 completed the SAT, the article “Testing, Testingnotes.

Twelve states require that high school juniors take the ACT – Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, according to the article by Tamar Lewin. Arkansas offers to pay for the test for any public school district that chooses to offer it. The SAT is required in Delaware, Idaho and Maine.

The increase in students taking the tests may also be attributed to parent and student pressure to do whatever it takes to stand out in the college admissions process, Lewin’s article reveals.

“I think the dramatic increase over the last five years in the number of ACT scores we receive comes in conjunction with the increased selectivity,” said Eric J. Furda, dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania. “More and more parents think they can’t just stick with the regular road map for getting into college but need to consider every option that might help them show their child in the best possible light.”

The article covers a number of the differences between the SAT and ACT, and why students may choose to take one over the other. Here are some of the differences between the two tests that the article notes:

Differences Between SAT and ACT (according to “Testing, Testing”)


  • Four long sections
  • Includes a science section and advanced math (such as trigonometry)
  • Expected to do more in less time : “45 minutes for 75 English questions and 35 minutes for 40 reading questions”


  • Ten shorter sections
  • 1/3 of the reading section is vocabulary
  • Passage-based questions
  • “70 minutes for 67 reading questions and 35 minutes for 49 writing questions”

To read the full article, including more differences between the SAT and ACT, click here.


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