The Redesigned SAT vs.

the ACT
(with bonus PSAT and Subject Test Informa>on!)
A comparison of popular standardized tests.
Chris Sperlein, Academic Coaches

Overview
ACT

Redesigned SAT
• 

Measures the skills and knowledge that
colleges want and in doing so is a predictor
of readiness for success in college.

• 

A curriculum based achievement test that
assesses high school students' general
educa>onal development and their ability
to complete college-level work.

• 

Favors the student who has taken
challenging courses.

• 

Favors the student who has taken
challenging courses, especially those who
excel in the Sciences.

• 

Length: 3 hrs +50 min op>onal essay and
breaks.

• 

Length: 2 hrs. 55 mins plus 40 minute
op>onal essay and breaks.

• 

154 ques>ons of mixed types across 3
sec>ons (Evidence Based Reading, Wri>ng
and Language and Math)

• 

215 mul>ple choice ques>ons across 4
sec>ons (English, Math, Reading, Science)

Overview (cont.)
Redesigned SAT

ACT

l 

Op>onal essay

l 

Op>onal Essay

l 

No penalty for incorrect answers

l 

No Penalty for incorrect answers

l 

About 70 seconds per ques>on.
(43% more >me per ques>on!)

l 

About 49 seconds per ques>on

l 

So] deadline for registering about 5
weeks prior to test. (late fee un>l
about 20 days prior to test)

l 

So] deadline for registering about 4
weeks prior to test. (late fee un>l
about 11 days prior to test)

Overview (cont.)
Redesigned SAT

ACT

l 

Applica>ons for Learning Disability
accommoda>ons 10 days to 7 weeks.
Online applica>on available.

l 

Applica>ons for Learning Disability
accommoda>ons 3-4 weeks depending
on type.

l 

Less apt to approve accommoda>ons
(2.3% of all SAT test Takers received in
2015)

l 

More apt to approve
accommoda>ons. (4% of all ACT test
takers received in 2015)

l 

Costs $54.50 ($43.00 without essay)

l 

Cost: $56.50 ($39.50 without essay)

l 

*Quality prep can achieve gains.

l 

*Quality prep can achieve gains.

*Student involvement/enthusiasm/work ethic is a good
indica>on of level of improvement achieved.

Wri>ng/English Comparison
Redesigned SAT

ACT

Wri>ng and Language

English

l 

35 minutes

l 

45 minutes

l 

44 Mul>ple Choice Ques>ons on improving
substance and quality of the authors and
grammar and punctua>on

l 

75 Mul>ple Choice ques>ons covering
grammar usage, mechanics, and rhetorical
skills.

l 

4 passages

l 

5 passages

l 

More focused on wri>ng style

l 

More focused on grammar

l 

Include charts and graphs

l 

Charts and graphs found in Science sec>on

Reading Comparison
Redesigned SAT

ACT

Evidence Based Reading test

Reading Test

l 

65 minutes

l 

35 minutes

l 

52 Mul>ple Choice Ques>ons

l 

40 Mul>ple Choice Ques>ons

l 

Focused on analyzing specific points
and understanding how the author
constructs an argument.

l 

Conven>onal Reading Comprehension
using short stories and novels.

l 

Students must seek out answer within
passages. Finding details is tricky.

l 

Ques>ons instruct students where to
look in passage for answer.

Math Comparison
Redesigned SAT Math

ACT Math

l 

58 Ques>ons (45 Mult Choice and 13 grid-Ins)

l 

60 ques>ons (All Mul>ple Choice)

l 

80 minutes

l 

60 minutes

l 

Calculator and Non-Calculator sec>ons

l 

Calculator Only

l 

More depth less breadth (Algebra 1,2 Data
Analysis)

l 

Wider breadth of topics (Pre-Algebra through Trig)

l 

Heavy emphasis on Algebra

l 

More even distribu>on of topics

l 

Most Math formulas provided

l 

No Math formulas provided

Science Comparison
ACT

Redesigned SAT

l 

35 minutes

l 

40 mul>ple choice ques>ons

l 

7 passages

l 

Does not require scien>fic knowledge past
9th grade science.

l 

Test taker must draw conclusions from
research and experimental summaries and
interpret informa>on from supplied charts
and graphs.

Does not include a science sec>on

Essay Comparison
Redesigned SAT

ACT

l 

50 Minutes

l 

40 Minutes

l 

Op>onal (Target College Discre>on)

l 

Op>onal (Target College Discre>on)

l 

Student will read an essay, explain how the
author builds an argument to persuade an
audience, then support their own explana>on
with evidence.

l 

Student reads a passage that describes an issue
and provides 3 different perspec>ves on the
issue. Then the student must analyze the
perspec>ves, state and develop their own
perspec>ve and explain the rela>onship
between theirs and the ones given.

Redesigned SAT
Scoring
Sec>on Scoring: Reading and Wri>ng Language combined for a 200-800. Math receives a score of
200-800. Total combined score ranges from 400-1600. Avg score is projected to be around 1000.
Essay Score: Scored by 2 graders each giving from 1-4 (combined score of 2-8) across 3 areas:
Reading, Analysis, and Wri>ng. These are reported separately and not factored into the sec>on
scores.
Test Score : 3 scores. Also known as scaled raw scores, will be reported for each of the Reading,
Wri>ng and Language, and Math and will range from 10-40 for each.
Cross Test Scores: 2 scores-1 for analysis in History/Social studies and 1 for Analysis in Science
based on specific ques>ons and range from 10-40.
Sub Scores: 7 scores. : 2 for Wri>ng and Language, 3 for Math, 2 from both Reading and Wri>ng
Language tests. They range from 1-15 for each.

ACT Scoring
Scoring
Mul>ple Choice: Each of the 4 sec>ons are given a scaled score between 1-36. These are then
averaged to give the composite score also between 1 and 36.
Essay: 2 readers assign a score of 1-6 (Total of 2-12) across the 4 following domains: Ideas and
Analysis Development and Support Organiza>on Language Use and Conven>ons. Total score is
then scaled from 1-36 and is reported as their English Language Arts score.
The average ACT composite score in the US in 2015 was 20.9. Maryland was 22.7 Howard County
was 24.6 .

Score Repor>ng-SAT and ACT
What the test companies will do may not be what colleges will accept!
Send All Scores

Send Best Score

Scores from every ajempt will be sent
to schools.

Allows students to send only their best
test day(s) performances (not
individual sec>ons) to prospec>ve
schools.

Colleges who want this usually super
score.

The student’s high schools will s>ll
receive all test results.

Super-scoring of Test Scores
l 

Most colleges will super-score their prospec>ve applicant’s test results and
use it as the student’s final score for admission purposes. Super-scoring
“cherry picks” the best sec>on score from each test ajempt.

Student takes Redesigned SAT without Essay:
A"empt 1

A"empt 2

Super-score

Reading/Wri>ng Language: 500 Reading/Wri>ng Language 530 Reading/Wri>ng Language 530
Math: 580

Math: 510

Math: 580

Total: 1080

Total: 1040

Total: 1180

The college would then use the super-score of 1180 as the students SAT score for admissions.

Offerings and Time to Report
SAT

ACT

Administered in early October,
November and December and March,
and early May and June and August*.

Administered September, October,
December, February, April, June. Dates
within the month vary.

Scores currently taking 5 weeks to
process.

Mul>ple choice scores available online
about 16-28 days a]er test day.

Op>onal Essay scores available about
14 days a]er mul>ple choice scores
are reported.

*Beginning 2017

When should your child take them?
Redesigned SAT

ACT

Mul>ple tries are encouraged as subsequent tests (up
to 3) usually produce higher scores. Also, colleges will
have mul>ple ajempts from which to super-score the
results.

Mul>ple tries are encouraged as subsequent tests (up
to 3) usually produce higher scores Also, colleges will
have mul>ple ajempts from which to super-score the
results.

If on grade level in Math (Algebra 2) first ajempt
should be in March or May of junior year.

If on grade level for Math (Algebra 2), first ajempt
should be in April or June of their junior year.

Can take earlier if above grade level in Math.

Can take earlier if above grade level.

The last chance for students wan>ng early ac>on/
early decision is in October of their Senior year as
most applica>ons are due to colleges by Nov 1.

The last chance for students wan>ng early ac>on/
early decision September of their senior year.

It can be taken in November or December in senior
year for standard admission.

It can be taken in October or December in senior year
for standard admission.

Which test should your child take?
Most colleges will accept either the ACT or Redesigned SAT. However, it is a good idea to check with their target college’s admission office to
make sure before enrolling in a prep class and registering for a test.
If your child’s target schools accept both, and you are s>ll unsure which test they should take, here are a few ideas:
l 

If your child is a slow reader and/or is a perfec>onist, the SAT may be a bejer fit.

l 

If you child excels in the sciences or is comfortable working quickly, the ACT may be a bejer fit.

l 

If your child has a learning disability, then the ACT may be more apt to give accommoda>ons.

Ideas
l 

Pick up a few test prep books and take their diagnos>c tests. Compare the scores and choose the one on which your child scored best.

l 

Take one of the commercially available tests that determine which test “fits” your child best.

l 

If you are s>ll undecided, take both tests and send the scores of the test on which your child scored the highest.

The SAT Subject Tests
l 

Assesses a student’s knowledge of a specific topic.

l 

20 different tests spanning 9 Languages (listening and wrijen), Mathema>cs,
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and History.

l 

Required by the more compe>>ve schools/programs.

l 

Generally taken on same day as SAT. 1 hour in length, take up to 3/day.

l 

Score is 200-800 per test, average score varies on individual tests.

l 

Cost: Flat fee of $26 and addi>onal $16 for standard subjects and $26 for
language tests with listening.

PSAT 8, 9, 10, PSAT NMSQT
l 

PSAT 10 designed for Sophomores, PSAT/NMSQT for Juniors.

l 

Slightly easier Mini-SAT without the Essay. ( PSAT is 2 hrs 45 mins vs SAT 3 hrs 50 mins ).

l 

Sign up at their high school. Taken in respec>ve years.

l 

Colleges do not see these scores.

l 

Sec>on Scores range from 160-760 in each of Reading/Wri>ng Language for a total of
320-1520. Will also include test scores, cross test scores and sub scores.

l 

Do not know what the current NMSQT threshold is yet.

l 

Only prep when student scores very near the NMSQT threshold.

Resources
l 

College Board (SAT/SAT Subject Tests/AP Tests)

l 

American College of TesTng (ACT Test)

________________________________________________________________
Please take a handout and contact me if you have any quesTons.
(Contact info on handout)