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We have been helping students with their SAT and ACT preparation for over 35 years. Now that every college accepts both tests, it has become increasingly important to determine which test better suits each student. Through our personalized guidance and in-depth knowledge of each test, students from schools throughout Westchester County, Putnam County, nearby Manhattan, Connecticut and New Jersey have gained confidence and improved their test scores at Chappaqua Learning Center.

Both the SAT and ACT have undergone changes since 2015. While the SAT has completely revamped its format, the ACT has also made significant changes to its content, especially in math and reading and minor changes to its science and reading formats.  It is more important now more than ever to work with test prep professionals who thoroughly understand the intricacies of these tests and their changes,  While we always try to pinpoint the appropriate test for each student, we can still prepare a student to take both tests if they so choose.

Section:                # Questions:         Time:

English (grammar)           75                45 minutes

Math (calculator)               60               60 minutes

Reading (4)                        40                35 minutes

Science                              40                35 minutes 

Essay (optional)                                    40 minutes

Experimental section                           40 minutes   

(only If not doing the essay)


Total time:  215 minutes or 3hrs. 15min.

With essay: 255 minutes or 3hrs. 45min



No penalty for guessing

Vocabulary in context

Persuasive essay supported by facts

Order of test does not change

Score based on 36

Meaningful change of score: 1 point

Section:                                 # Questions:     Time:

Reading (5)                                             52             65 minutes

Writing (grammar)                                44             35 minutes

Math (no calculator)                              20             25 minutes

Math (calculator)                                   38             55 minutes

Essay (optional)                                                      50 minutes

Experimental section              March, 2016, experimental questions scattered in test)


Total time: 180 minutes or 3hrs.

With essay: 230 minutes or 3hrs. 50min.



No penalty for guessing

Vocabulary in context 

Persuasive essay supported by facts

Order of test does not change

Score based on 1600

Meaningful change of score: 50 points 





There are so many misconceptions and urban legends about the differences between the ACT and SAT.



  • Both tests are challenging and have changed: both have a double passage in reading and new essays.

  • Both test similar concepts–literature, history, social science, humanities, science, math– but differently: no science section on SAT: instead, science questions scattered throughout.

  • Neither test tests IQ and neither test is more “abstract” than the other.

  • Neither test predicts college success.

  • The ACT is easier for some students: math is straight forward, covering up to Algebra2/trig

  • The ACT has time constraints: Some students cannot work quickly enough to complete each section in time allotted and have difficulty interpreting charts and data.

  • The SAT is easier for some students, though some students have difficulty working without a calculator and handling math problems that are wordy and layered.

  • The methodology needed for one test does not always translate to the other.

  • Students CANNOT tell which test is better for them by taking a quick “diagnostic” test offered by test prep companies! These tests are simply marketing tools disguised as an honest evaluation of a student’s skills.

  • Students should look at both tests –buy the College Board SAT book or visit Khan Academy’s website, and the REAL ACT test book published by Wiley Publishing.

  • Don’t believe anything anyone says! Call schools directly to find out if they “super-score” SAT and/or ACT test results.

ADVICE: Ignore the hype! Have you “learned how to learn?” If you can answer with a resounding “yes,” then you will be able to handle these tests as well as any other test you will face in high school, college and beyond. Not sure you have “learned how to learn?” Find a tutoring company to help you that values education and has academic integrity. Be suspect of promises and grandiose claims. 

Need more information? 


go directly to the ACT or College board website


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