by Dr. Emily Matson, Test Prep Specialist

Most schools accept either SAT or ACT scores, so your student may be wondering which one to focus their energy on. This depends on your student’s strengths – if your student is stronger on Reading, for instance, the SAT might be their best bet, whereas if your student is stronger on English grammar, the ACT might be their A-game. Today, we will discuss some major differences between the Verbal sections on the SAT and ACT:

  • The Reading section comes first on the SAT, but third on the ACT. On the SAT, there are 52 questions, and pacing is 13 minutes per passage. On the ACT, there are 40 questions, and pacing is 8:45 per passage.
  • Unlike on the SAT, many of the ACT Reading questions are “right there” questions, meaning you can put your finger on the answer in the passage. The downside, however, is that there’s minimal time to find the answers. The ACT also contains a lot of “EXCEPT” or “which of the following does NOT” questions, which take a lot of time to answer and do not appear on the SAT.

  • The English section is the first section on the ACT and there are 75 questions, 9 minutes per passage. On the SAT, the Writing and Language section is the second section, and there are 44 questions, 8 minutes per passage. The grammar concepts are the same on both tests, but the rhetoric questions are slightly different.

Want to learn more about how the Math sections on the SAT and ACT differ from each other? Stay tuned for our next post! 


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