The ACT, formerly called the American College Testing program, is a curriculum-based test which includes 4 skill sections: Math, English, Science, and Reading. The ACT was designed to measure what a student knows about the 4 basic subjects and to determine a student’s capability to do college-level work.
Each of the four main sections of the ACT is scored individually on a scale from 1 to 36. A Composite score is calculated based on the average of these four scores.
In 2005, an optional Writing section was added to the ACT. The writing test measures skill and ability in planning and writing a short essay. The writing section is scored separately on a scale from 2 to 12 – the writing score is not included in the Composite score.
The ACT is offered up to 6 times per year, depending on which state you live in. Each section of the ACT takes between 35 and 60 minutes to complete – this means that the whole test usually takes over 4 hours to complete. The cost to take the ACT is approximately $40 – an additional fee is required for the writing test. For more information go to www.ACT.org.
The SAT, formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, includes math, critical reading, and writing sections. The test was developed to measure critical thinking and reasoning skills needed for success at the college level.
A "new" SAT admissions test was introduced in March 2016 which allows for scores between 200 and 800 points for a Reading/Writing section and a Math section - for a maximum test score of 1600 points. Students are NOT penalized for wrong answers on the new SAT. A separate essay test is rated with scores between 2 and 8.
Before March of 2016, each section received a score on a scale from 200 to 800 for a maximum test score of 2400 across the three sections. Each question was weighted equally, but students were penalized ¼ of a point for each wrong answer.
SAT Subject Tests are also available. Some colleges recommend or require that students take the subject tests for placement purposes and to give the admissions office a better idea of the student’s strengths in the subject areas. Students may take up to 3 subject tests on the same day.
The SAT is offered 7 times per year and the basic Reasoning test takes 3 hours to complete (an additional 50 minutes for the essay test). The cost for the SAT without the essay is $43.00 (with the essay it's $54.50). Each SAT Subject test is an additional fee. For more information, go to www.collegeboard.org.