Four-year colleges require students to take at least one of these exams by December of their senior years. It is recommended that juniors take these tests in the spring of their junior year, so they can re-take the tests, if needed, in the fall.
NOTE: October is the last test date that makes scores available in time for early decision and early action programs. You cannot take the SAT and SAT Subject Tests on the same day.
Although the SAT and ACT are scored differently, most colleges accept either test and use a conversion table to equate them. If a student submits both test scores, the higher of the two scores is used for eligibility.
See the links on the right for SAT and ACT registration information, practice questions and tests, and to find out more about the differences between the two exams.
The ACT (American College Test) is offered nationally every year in September, October, December, February, April and June.
The ACT has four sections: English, Reading, Math (up to Trigonometry) and Science, as well as an optional 30-minute writing test. Although the Writing section is optional, many colleges, including the UC system, require it. The test is 3 hours long (without the Writing section) or 3 hours and 25 minutes long (with the Writing section).
You'll earn one ACT score (1 to 36) on each test (English, Math, Reading and Science) and a composite ACT score, which is an average of these four tests. If, for example, you scored 31 on the English, 30 on the Math, 29 on the Reading and 30 on the Science, your composite ACT score would be 30. Usually, when people ask about your score, they're referring to your composite ACT score. The composite score falls between 1 and 36. The national average is about 21.
You'll receive subscores in English, Math and Reading that range between 1 and 18. These scores provide you with more detail about your performance, but they are not actually used by colleges or universities.
The SAT is offered nationally every year in October, November, December, January, March, May and June.
The test includes two sections: Math and Evidence Based Reading & Writing, and an optional 50 minute essay section that tests reading, analysis, and writing skills. The test takes 3 hours (plus 50 minutes if doing the optional Essay).
The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections are scored on a 200- to 800 - point scale, making the "perfect" score 1600. The essay results are reported separately - 2 to 8 on each of the three traits (reading, writing, analysis).