The ACT or The New SAT - which one should you take?

The SAT/ACT Diagnostic is a must have for all students as they start the college process. We have been providing guidance for students and we found our diagnostic tests the answer to the question of "Which test should I take?". We have been using these tests with all our students and we find the information provided invaluable. We finally have definitive information when discussing standardized testing. After reviewing the report with both student and parent feel confident in the direction they should pursue. We highly recommend these diagnostic tests for all students.


Admission officers at North American Universities determine college readiness with the help of standardised test like The ACT or The SAT score, when students apply to these universities for undergraduate admissions. The ACT is scored out of 36, whereas the New SAT is scored out of 1600. These test help admission officers measure quantitative skills, understanding of some subject areas, writing and reading skills. It goes without saying, that if you want to get admission in a your dream university, you need high test score. I believe, if you want to get a high test score, you need to take the right test.

Neither The ACT nor The New SAT is harder or easier when compared to each other. I have observed that there are some students who are made for The ACT and some for made for The SAT. Therefore, one of my first advices to students is to find out which test they should be taking. I advice, before you start preparing for these tests, take a diagnostic test with an expert, who can help you predict your score and advice which test suits you best. Remember, it's not about taking the test alone but being advised by an expert. It is meaningless to take a blood test, you won’t know what the report means unless you go to your doctor, who interprets the report and advises you.

There is really, no point in taking both the tests, as they are showing the same thing to an admission officer. Whether you get 36 on The ACT or 1600 on The New SAT, it means the same to an admission officer. However, in preparing for both the tests, you will surely lose out on previous time, which you could have investments in improving your grades, spend on extracurricular activities and community service. Also, identifying the right test is important so that you don’t end up taking these test over and over again. It is extremely frustrating and brings your morale down, when you fail to get the score you want. Start with the right test and the journey to you dream university will be easy. Let us look at how similar or different these exams are.  

In terms of the time duration, both tests are more or less the same. The ACT is a 2 hours 55 minutes exam with a 40 minutes optional essay. The New SAT is 3 hours test with 50 minutes essay which is optional. Thought, it is optional to take the essay section, I usually advice students to take the option of with essay writing.  The ACT comprises of four test: Reading, English, Math and Science. Whereas, The New SAT comprises of three sections Reading, Writing and Language test and Math. The ACT science section is not at all difficult to master, and has nothing to do with science. With The New SAT, there is no way you can escape science completely, as there are science questions in each of its three sections.  In the same way, the no-calculator section in The New SAT, should not scare students away, as calculation with calculator can also be mastered. Both tests do not have negative marking. The ACT never had, the old SAT had, but the new SAT does not.

The New SAT, gives more time per question 70 seconds per question, whereas The ACT gives 49 seconds per question. However, the questions tend to be harder on The New SAT compared to The ACT. Also, if you are bad with mental mathematics, then The ACT is a test for you. The ACT needs you to be calm, if you can manage this with extensive practice, in a test environment, not at home, but in an exam hall environment, where tests are timed properly and breaks administered as they will be on the test day, you can easily get over the time limit constraint.

To conclude, it is not important which test you take, but it is extremely important you take the test meant for you. Take expert advice, before you select the right test. Remember, an university admission officers wants to see a lot more on your application not just your grades and standardized test scores. You can’t be spending all your precious time preparing for these test. Make the right choice of trainers who can help you and guide you and take you through these tests successfully.

----- By Senior Standardized Tests consultant and expert - Edukraft
New SAT (Redesigned SAT)

The College Board made content, format, and scoring changes to the SAT in 2016. The redesigned SAT test prioritizes content that reflects the kind of reading and math students will encounter in college and their future work lives. It was first administered in the spring of 2016. The following table shows the content of the redesigned SAT. 

Category New SAT
Total Testing Time 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the Essay [optional]
  • Reading Test
  • Writing and Language Test
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
  • Math
  • Essay (optional)
Important Features
  • Focus on the knowledge, skills, and understandings that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success
  • Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact
  • Rights-only scoring (no penalty for guessing)
  • Optional and given at the end of the SAT; postsecondary institutions determine whether they will require the Essay for admission
  • 50 minutes to write the essay
  • Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills; students produce a written analysis of a provided source text
Score Reporting
  • Scale ranging from 400 to 1600
  • Scale ranging from 200 to 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; 200 to 800 for Math; 2 to 8 on each of three dimensions for Essay
  • Essay results reported separately

The SAT is taken 6 times a year in India, in October, November, December, January, May and June.To register, please visit


The ACT test is made up of four individual test, each of which is designed to measure academic achievement in a major area: English, Math, Reading and Natural Science.

Sections English Math Reading Science Reasoning
Time 45 Minutes , 75 Questions 60 Minutes , 60 Questions 35 Minutes , 40 Questions 35 Minutes , 40 Questions
  • Punctuation
  • Basic Grammar and usage
  • Sentence Structure
  • Strategy
  • Organization
  • Style
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Elementary Algebra
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Plane Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Pose Fiction
  • Humanities
  • Social Studies
  • Natural Science
  • Data Representation
  • Research Summaries
  • Conflicting Viewpoints

The ACT is taken 6 times a year in India, in September, October, December, February, April and June. To register, please visit