To Register:


Comparison of the ACT and the SAT:


  • Curriculum based questions
  • Straight forward questions
  • Four long sections, plus optional essay
  • No experimental section
  • Four Trigonometry questions
  • Science section
  • Less time per question
  • No penalty for incorrect answer
  • Total time with writing:  3 hours and 35 minutes


SAT (taken March, 2016 and later)

  • "Evidence-Based" Reading and Writing questions, including data interpretation questions
  • Strong emphasis on Algebra and data interpretation and analysis
  • One Trig question
  • Questions that focus on audience, purpose, and effective communication of ideas rather than on grammar rules.
  • No penalty for incorrect answer
  • Four required sections:  Reading, Writing, Math, and Science
  • Optional 50-minute essay section, to analyze how an author of a passage builds a persuasive argument
  • Total time with essay:  3 hours, 50 minutes


Need help comparing scores?

  • Concordance Charts, comparison tools to compare your scores on the SAT versus the ACT.                            

Free and Self-paced Preparation:

  • Khan Academy - now partnering with CollegeBoard with free SAT preparation.
  • Number2.com - Free online test prep including immediate feedback on every incorrect answer, question of the day, and word of the day for both SAT and ACT.


SAT specific practice:


ACT specific practice:


Fee-based and Structured Preparation:

  • AJ Tutoring - provides tutoring for SAT Reasoning, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP Exams.
  • Compass Test Prep - provides 1 to 1 test prep tutoring. 
  • The Princeton Review - Provides 6 or 8 week structured classes or individual tutoring for SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT
  • Kaplan - Provides 6 or 8 week structured classes or individual tutoring for SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT

There is no "best" way to prepare, and fees can range roughly from $150 to $900 and up.  The method you choose, whether on an individual tutoring basis or in a group class, should meet your student's needs best.  Questions to help you evaluate test prep options:

  1. What is the average score improvement?
  2. What are the qualifications of the teachers?  How much experience do they have coaching the SAT and/or ACT?  How are they trained?
  3. Does the course combine math, reading, and writing review?  Or would a tutor to review your weakest subject work better for you?
  4. What is the class size?  Have they been kept small to permit individual assistance?  
  5. Is extra or additional assistance available?  Is there a charge for this?
  6. Does the course offer practice tests and diagnostic feedback?
  7. Are timed practice tests used throughout the course?  How many?
  8. How much weekly homework should my student plan for?
  9. Will the course schedule and student's schedule be compatible?  Will the studnet have time to attend class?  Do the homework?  
  10. How many hours of teaching/tutoring does the option include?
  11. What is the fee?


SAT Subject Tests:

  • CSUs do not consider these.
  • UC Admissions and SAT Subject Tests:  while no longer "required", certain UC campuses/majors "recommend" students take certain SAT Subject Tests.
  • Private and out-of-state campuses and majors vary in their policies on SAT Subject Tests, so be sure to check individual campus websites for their requirements.  Only a small minority require or consider these.


Testing results not aligned to your abilities?

  • Check out Fairtest for a list of colleges that do not use SAT or ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into bachelor degree programs.  There are approximately 900+ campuses which utilize admission processes of either test-free or test-optional.