ACT Math vs. SAT Math (Meaning, Similarities, Differences)

If you know about ACT math and SAT math, you will wonder about the differences or similarities between them. This article will compare “ACT Math vs. SAT Math”, stating the relationship between them.

It is common knowledge that many people (past students and present students) don’t like to involve themselves with mathematics other than when it is compulsory, like taking an ACT Math or SAT Math test, which they must take if they must attend college.

Unfortunately, the ACT and SAT Math exams will thoroughly check you on a range of Math criteria that you will need to demonstrate your grasp and achievement in college.

This article will compare “ACT Math vs. SAT Math,” explaining how the ACT and SAT Math tests differ from one another and help prospective college students decide which test to take.

A Quick Review of the ACT and SAT

The ACT/SAT are standardized tests taken by prospective college students to get accepted into their preferred college. The SAT has been in existence longer than the ACT and is offered by the college board.

SAT is placed into three sections with an elective essay, and Math is the closing segment on the SAT. At the same time, the ACT is run by the ACT body. It divides into four segments with an elective writing segment.

Moreover, the ACT math is taken in the second segment. 

A major factor differentiating in “ACT Math vs. SAT Math” is the duration for which the math sections of each test lasts. Usually, the SAT offers extra time, which allows candidates to think through the math questions.

On the ACT, candidates get less time and are under pressure to answer questions fast.

ACT Math vs. SAT Math: Test Duration

Here, we will look at the difference in the time it takes to complete each of the ACT Math/SAT Math tests.

ACT Math Timing: 

In the ACT, all candidates must complete the math section within the space of an hour. The math section containing 60 questions leaves the candidates with an average of one minute to answer each ACT Math question.

Unlike the SAT, which separates Math into two portions, one requiring a calculator and the other not, the ACT gives you all 60 Math problems at once, with no break intervals.

Read this: PSAT vs. SAT – What’s the difference?

SAT Timing:

The SAT math test divides into two halves; one requires a calculator, the other does not, and each has a distinct number of questions and duration.

 SAT Math SectionNumber of Questions Total Section DurationEach Question Duration
Calculator3855 minutes87 seconds
No Calculator2025 minutes75 seconds

Note that there’s a brief five-minute break interval that separates both parts of the SAT Math sections, so you don’t get to solve all questions at once during the SAT. 

Moreover, as you may have observed, the SAT offers candidates a bit extra time per question on Math in comparison to the ACT.

Candidates taking the SAT normally have about 15 to 27 extra seconds to provide solutions to each math question compared to candidates taking the ACT.

If you are concerned about having sufficient time to answer each question in a math section, then the SAT could likely be a better alternative for you if considering which of ACT or SAT exams to take.

ACT Math vs. SAT Math: How are they Scored?

For each of ACT Math/SAT Math, the balance of right and wrong solutions offers candidates what’s referred to as a raw score, which is then converted to a scaled score.

Here, we will break down how these scores and how each ACT Math and SAT Math scoring differs.

Read this: What to bring to SAT Exam (Don’t forget any of these)

ACT Scoring

All questions in the ACT Math segment are multiple-choice, with each question consisting of 5 different options to pick from. For every question on the ACT, you’ll earn the subsequent marks:

  • +1 raw score for every right solution.
  • 0 raw score for each wrong or non-answered question.

There isn’t any penalty or negative score for incorrect solutions on the ACT.

Once you have a raw score, you may convert it right into a scaled score out of 36. This scaled score will, in turn, show you where you rank in the overall ACT national ranking among other candidates who sat for the ACT.

The ranking is in terms of percentile. 

SAT Scoring

The SAT Math segment is split into a mixture of grid-in and multiple-choice questions. For every query on the SAT, you’ll earn the following points:

  • +1 raw score for every accurate solution
  • 0 raw score for each wrong solution and blank answers.

Unlike in the ACT, there is a penalty or negative penalty attached, providing wrong solutions in the SAT.

The overall raw score in the SAT Math phase gets converted right into a scaled score from 200-800. Your scaled score will determine where you rank in the national ranking of everyone who sat for the SAT.

The ranking is in a percentile format, the same way it is in the ACT.

ACT Math vs. SAT Math: Which is More Difficult

The difficulty of each when comparing “ACT Math vs. SAT Math” depends on the candidates sitting for the test.

While there are similar mathematical principles on each exam, candidates may find one or the alternative tougher based on the individual candidate’s math skills.

This is genuine as regards the exams themselves as well. The SAR isn’t more difficult than the ACT or vice versa, regardless of what the myths say.

A candidate who prefers taking English lessons may benefit from taking the SAT, for example, because the SAT is known for its vocabulary and essential thinking skills.

Candidates who prefer math or science subjects may likely find taking the ACT simpler, considering it is a straightforward exam highlighting formulas, graphs, and charts. However, it depends on the candidate.


Taking a practice test on each exam is the best method to figure out which of the ACT/SAT Math exams is right for you.

Moreover, taking a practice test for each exam can help you figure out which math sections of the various exams are the easiest for you.

It will also help prepare you for the actual exam.

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