Taking the SAT is the best way to show colleges you have the skills and knowledge they want most. Find out how the new SAT, launching in March, compares to the ACT.*

Features New SAT ACT
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


Resources New SAT ACT
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
A mobile app that instantly scores paper tests Yes, Daily Practice for the New SAT. No


Schedule New SAT ACT
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 Reading Test

65 minutes

52 questions

Writing and Language Test

35 minutes

44 questions

Math Test

80 minutes

58 questions

Reading Test

35 minutes

40 questions

English Test

45 minutes

75 questions

Math Test

60 minutes

60 questions

Science Test

35 minutes

40 questions