New SAT/ACT Comparison

  • New SAT, ACT — what's the difference?

    With the change from the old SAT to the new SAT, there is not a significant difference between the two tests anymore. Here is a quick breakdown of timing and number of questions:


    New SAT


    1600 point scale


    • 65 min
    • 52 questions


    • 35 min
    • 44 questions

    Math (no calculator portion)

    • 25 min
    • 20 questions
    • 5 grid in questions

    Math (calculator portion)

    • 55 min
    • 38 questions
    • 8 grid in questions

    Optional Essay

    • 50 min
    • 1 question
    • This is currently optional, but this could change
    • 0-24 scale scored using RAW (Reading, Analysis, Writing); each area is 8 points

    1-36 point scale


    • 45 min
    • 75 questions


    • 60 min
    • 60 questions
    • Calculator is ok but not the T-Inspire


    • 30 min


    • 35 min
    • 40 questions

    Optional Essay

    • 40 min
    • 1 question
    • 1-36 scale


    The following notes came from a "Princeton Review" presentation.

    Math: This section goes through Algebra 2 (sometimes a few Trig questions).Sometimes it is better to take the test early in your high school career because you are closer to the material.They want to see computational abilities and abilities with the calculator.Math on SAT and ACT are very similar.

    On SAT you have 8 questions that you will have to write (you will not have multiple choice options).You will have 2 extended questions (they are longer than other math questions)

    Writing: There is a huge focus on grammar and punctuation in this section- comma (use the Oxford Comma) or dash for example.

    Science: This section is not really about science but about technical reading (such as graphs) to make inferences and predictions

    Essay: Read the questions first so that you can focus on what they will be looking for.The essay will not impact your ACT or SAT score but it does give colleges more information about you.

    Time is of the essence in all of these tests.


    New SAT:

    • Developed more questions that use charts and data that you have to make inferences from.
    • Reading passages will be from published sources (speeches, novels, etc).
    • SAT no longer has a penalty for guessing
    • Tests punctuation on the essays (did not do this before).
    • No longer does direct SAT vocab questions. Questions are vocab in context but they will test secondary and tertiary definitions.
    • They have some statistics questions in the math section.You don’t need to have a stats background but this is an opportunity to see your ability to infer.
    • 4 trig questions- 2 of them can be solved with SOHCAHTOA