The SAT has long been considered the standard of all standardized admissions tests. But in the past decade, the ACT has matched its popularity across the country.  Today, colleges and universities give both tests equal weight. 

The format of the SAT and the material tested have changed several times over the years.  The latest version is divided into four sections:

Reading (65 minutes)

Writing and Language (35 minutes)

Math without a calculator (25 minutes)

Math with a calculator (55 minutes)

ESSAY - Optional (50 minutes)

Some colleges require the essay.  But even when it is not required, college admissions officers generally encourage students to take it. The Essay is evaluated on three matters – Reading, Analysis, and Writing.  Each topic receives a score from 2-8.  There is no composite score, so a perfect score would read as 8/8/8. 

The SAT composite score consists of a Verbal and Math score.  Each score can go up to 800 points, making the highest possible composite score 1600.  

The Verbal score is determined by combining the raw scores from the Reading test and the Writing and Language test. 

Why choose the SAT over the ACT? 

The number one reason students prefer the SAT is that there is no science section (see ACT).  In general, students who have stronger verbal skills find the SAT to be a better fit for them.  

To settle any dispute over which one to take, I advise my students to take a diagnostic test for each one and compare the results.