ACT: Who Would Do Best? Tips
The SAT was designed as an aptitude test -- it tests your reasoning and verbal abilities, not what you've learned in school. In fact, the SAT was supposed to be a test that one could not study for -- studying does not change one's aptitude. The ACT, on the other hand, is an achievement test. It is meant to test what you have learned in school. However, this distinction between "aptitude" and "achievement" is dubious. There's concrete evidence showing that you can study for the SAT, and as the tests have evolved, they have come to look more and more like each other.
The ACT has 215 questions plus the optional essay. The SAT has 170 questions plus the required essay. The actual testing time for the ACT with essay is 3 hours and 25 minutes while the SAT takes 3 hours and 20 minutes (total test time is longer for both because of breaks). Thus, the ACT allows less time per question.
One of the biggest differences between the ACT and SAT is that the ACT has a science test that includes questions in areas such as biology, chemistry, physics and earth science . However, you don't need to be a science whiz to do well on the ACT. In fact, the science test is really assessing your ability to read and understand graphs, scientific hypotheses, and research summaries. Students who do well with critical reading often do well on the Science Reasoning Test.