– Is ACT more difficult than SAT is the question that many students are wondering when applying for studying abroad in America.

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Structure, timing, and difficulty of SAT and ACT

In order to compare the difficulty of the two exams, we must first talk about the exam structure, the time allowed in each test, and the difficulty of each part.

Section SAT ACT
Writing and Language/English 35 questions
44 minutes
75 questions
45 minutes
Math 58 questions
80 minutes
60 questions
60 minutes
Reading 52 questions
65 minutes
40 questions
35 minutes
Science 40 questions
35 minutes
Essay 50 minutes 40 minutes


For more: How long it would take to prepare for ACT exam?

Is ACT more difficult than SAT? English in the ACT is quite stressful in terms of time when you only have about 36 seconds for each question. However, this section is only about the knowledge you have learned in school, not the challenge of language reasoning ability like in the SAT.

In Math, ACT includes more trigonometry questions than the SAT, but trigonometric knowledge in both exams is basic. For ACT, you can use the calculator for all questions. Meanwhile, Math in SAT is divided into 2 parts, including the 25-minute part without using the calculator with 20 questions. If you are not good at mental arithmetic, you need to reconsider your choice. In addition, Math in the ACT is multiple-choice, while SAT has 80% multiple choice and 20% essay.

Reading comprehension in the ACT is relatively “easier” than SAT because ACT does not focus too much on vocabulary, especially academic vocabulary, so if the vocabulary is not too wide, ACT is the better choice. Moreover, SAT also provides the form of questions about the text that you must show the most accurate evidence for the previous answers, so it requires you to think and read quickly but carefully.

Finally, Science does not appear on the SAT nor on any standardized test. But in fact, there is very little scientific knowledge given in this section, candidates mainly answer questions related to the ability to read data sheets and graphs or assume scientific situations. Although the SAT does not have the separate Science section, New SAT also places more emphasis on interpreting data tables and graphs in all sections. The ability to interpret data will assist you in both tests.

For more: Where to take ACT preparation courses?

Is ACT more difficult than SAT?

It is difficult to say whether ACT is harder than the SAT because each test will have its own assessment goals and depending on your ability to choose the appropriate test. For example, if you can be stronger in Math than in language, you should choose SAT because Math score makes up half of the total SAT score, while Math score in ACT accounts for only 1/4. If strong general knowledge is learned and does not have a large amount of academic vocabulary, the ACT is the safe choice. ACT scores and SAT scores are accepted by universities in the US and equally recognized for difficulty.

For more: How to study SAT effectively at home? – A place to share all the experiences of Test Prep exams for students preparing to study abroad. If you have any questions, please contact us directly via email or hotline for free advice.