SAT/ACT » What is the SAT and ACT

What is the SAT and ACT

What is the SAT and ACT?

Both the SAT and ACT are entrance exams used by colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board. The ACT is a  multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by ACT.


What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?

The ACT covers a broader set of knowledge (e.g including science) and requires answering more questions than the SAT. Students who excel at problem solving and have a strong 'natural' aptitude for math and verbal skills tend to do well SAT, whereas students who can move fast and solve many problems across domains, tend to perform slightly better on the ACT.


The purpose of both tests is to measure a high school student's readiness for college, and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants.


SAT Basics

SAT Length

3 hours (plus 50 minutes if taking optional Essay)

SAT Sections


       Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

       Essay (optional)

SAT Cost

$52 ($68 if taking SAT with Essay)

Highest SAT Score


Average SAT Score


ACT Basics

ACT Length

2 hrs, 55 minutes (plus 40 minutes if taking ACT with writing)

ACT Sections





       Writing (optional)


Without Writing: $55  USD ($70 if taking ACT with writing portion)

Max. Score


Avg. Score




Please Note:

  • The University of California suspended the standardized test requirement (ACT/SAT) for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024. The suspension will allow the University to create a new test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness.
  • The California State University has temporarily suspended the use of ACT/SAT examinations in determining admission eligibility for all CSU campuses for the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • On January 19, 2021, College Board announcedthree changes to the SAT Suite of Assessments:
    • Discontinuing SAT Subject Tests
    • Discontinuing the SAT Essay
    • Investing in a more flexible SAT—a streamlined, digitally delivered test that meets the evolving needs of students and higher education.
  • SJVA School Code: 054027
  • SAT / ACT Fee Waiver Eligibility Guidelines Form Student eligibility is primary determined by membership in a family whose annual income falls within set guidelines