How Many Questions Are on the ACT® and SAT® Tests?

How Many Questions Are on the ACT® and SAT® Tests?
Explore the differences between the SAT and ACT. Learn about the type of questions and time constraints each test has.
How Many Questions Are on the ACT® and SAT® Tests?
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Knowing how many questions are on the ACT® and SAT® tests will help you know what to expect when you take one or both of these tests. It can also help you determine which test is right for you personally. 

SAT Test Questions

The SAT has four sections: Reading, Writing/Language, Math (with a calculator), and Math (without a calculator). There is also an optional fifth section, which involves writing an essay.

The Reading section has 52 multiple-choice questions. Students are required to read passages and the tables, graphs, or charts that may accompany them and then answer the corresponding questions. This section must be completed in 65 minutes.

The Writing/Language section has 44 multiple-choice questions that are based on reading passages and (in some cases) charts, graphs, and tables. Students must complete this section in 35 minutes.

The Math section of the SAT that allows for the use of a calculator has 38 questions. Of these, 30 are multiple-choice and the remaining eight are grid-in questions, which means that you will be required to provide your own response. This section must be completed in 55 minutes.

The Math section of the SAT that does not allow calculator use has 20 questions and must be completed in 25 minutes. Of these questions, 15 are multiple-choice and five require test-takers to provide their own answer.  

The SAT has a total of 164 questions and must be completed in three hours. However, SAT accommodation options are available for those who have learning challenges, and one of these accommodations includes extra time to finish the test. All accommodation options must be formally requested by submitting an application prior to taking the test.

ACT Test Questions

The ACT has four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning. Students can also take the ACT’s optional writing test. All ACT test questions are multiple-choice except for the writing test, which is an essay.

The English section has 75 questions and must be completed in 45 minutes. 

The Math section has 60 questions and must be completed in 60 minutes. Calculators are allowed for the math test, but there are rules limiting what types of calculators you can use. Generally speaking, the Math portion of the ACT test has 14 pre-algebra questions, 10 elementary algebra questions, 9 intermediate algebra questions, 14 plane geometry questions, 9 coordinate geometry questions, and 4 elementary trigonometry questions. 

The Reading section is divided into four parts. Three parts contain one long prose passage while the fourth part contains two shorter prose passages. There is a total of 40 questions in this section of the test, and the entire Reading section must be completed in 35 minutes. 

The Science section has seven passages and five to seven questions to accompany each passage. There is a total of 40 questions, and test-takers have 35 minutes to complete the section. 

The ACT test has a total of 215 questions and must be completed in about three hours. Like the SAT, the ACT also allows test-takers to apply for an accommodation that extends test-taking time by 50%. 

Now What?

The truth is that neither test is inherently easier; however, after reading the above information, you may find that one of the two formats is personally preferable, which could make it easier for you to score well. If this is the case, feel free to pick the test of your choice. Colleges and universities tend to accept both tests, so the one you choose should not have an impact on your educational plans. Even so, it’s always wise to double-check college and university admissions guidelines before signing up for either the SAT or ACT.

You’ll also need to prepare yourself to face these tests. Experts note that some of the best ways to prepare yourself for an upcoming SAT or ACT test is to practice reading long passages and study graphs. It’s also a good idea to take practice ACT and SAT tests to get familiar with the actual tests and to see if there are any weak areas you need to shore up.

More than a million students around the United States use UWorld to prepare for the SAT and ACT tests, and it’s easy to see why. UWorld offers unique, online-only test-prep tools—including practice tests, clear explanations of complex topics, and study materials—that makes it easy for you to study at your own pace. Get in touch with us to learn more and check out our free practice tests.

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