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Kristin Fracchia

TuesdACT: ACT vs NEW SAT – How the Reading Sections Compare

For those of you who are deciding whether you should take the ACT or the New SAT this spring, do we have a treat in store for you! We are doing a video series comparing each section of the ACT to the new SAT, so you can see which test might align better with your strengths and preferences as a test-taker.

And in today’s video, we are looking at the Reading sections.

Here are the facts; then check out the video for more on what the heck this all means!


ACT vs New SAT number of passages

ACT Reading: 4

SAT Reading: 5


ACT vs New SAT number of fiction passages

ACT Reading: 1

SAT Reading: 1


ACT vs New SAT passage lengths

ACT Reading: 700-900 words

SAT Reading: 500-750 words


ACT vs. New SAT passage difficulty levels

ACT Reading: all about the same (10th-early 11th grade level)

SAT Reading: varies (9th grade-early college level)


ACT vs. New SAT comparison passages:

ACT Reading: most tests have 1 set of dual passages to compare

SAT Reading: all tests have 1 set of dual passages to compare


ACT vs New SAT Informational graphics

ACT Reading: all text

SAT Reading: a few questions require students to evaluate tables or figures along with what they read.


ACT vs. New SAT number of questions and time limit

ACT Reading: 40 questions; 35 minutes (52.5 seconds per question, including reading time)

SAT Reading: 52 questions; 65 minutes (1 min 15 seconds per question, including reading time) but remember there is one more passage to read than on the ACT.


Did you know that Magoosh offers online test prep for both the ACT and New SAT exams? We also offer discounts for purchasing subscriptions for more than one exam. Learn more at magoosh.com.


About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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