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Kristin Fracchia

TuesdACT: ACT vs. New SAT – How the Math Sections Compare

If you, like many high school students this year, are debating whether the ACT or the New SAT is the better test for you, you are in luck! We are doing a little series here on TuesdACT on how the sections of the ACT compare to sections on the new SAT, and today we are talking about the math sections.

Here are some of the key similarities and differences discussed in the video:

Calculator Usage

ACT: all calculator
New SAT: calculator portion and one no-calculator portion with 20 questions.

Grid-ins and Multiple Choice

ACT: all multiple choice
SAT: 80% multiple choice; 20% grid-ins (fill in your own answer)


The content on ACT Math and new SAT math is now very similar. The SAT didn’t used to test things such as complex numbers and trig, but the ACT did. Now both tests cover these more advanced topics.

Number of Questions and Time Allowed

ACT: 60 questions; 60 minutes (1 min per question)
SAT: 58 questions and 80 minutes total; 55 minutes and 38 questions on calculator portion (1 min 26 seconds per question); 25 minutes and 20 questions on no-calculator portion (1 minute 15 seconds per question).

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About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping 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 agony and bliss of train running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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