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Understanding the Key Differences Between the Digital SAT and ACT

Mar 9, 2024

According to a report, SAT school day preparation has increased to 17% since the last decade. Considering the ACT 2023, the test takers were seen to exceed 1.4 million. These numbers exhibit the importance of the two exams for students interested in pursuing higher studies in the best colleges in the world. Both the SAT and ACT are standard exams accepted globally. The candidates have the freedom to choose the one that aligns well with their career inclinations. 

So, are you new and planning to take a test? Do away with your confusion about choosing the right tests for you. Read on and get valuable insights to understand the key difference between the digital SAT and ACT exams.


What is Digital SAT?

Presenting one of the common and popular choices among students, the SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test is conducted by ‘The College Board.’ Recently, it has converted to fully digital mode while adopting the adaptive testing model. Now, candidates have to access the digital platform (approved by The College Board) to appear in the examination. The testing app ‘Bluebook’ has been introduced to the candidates to prepare and take the test via digital devices.

The exam holds global recognition, with its score being accepted in educational institutes across the world. The score is accepted in countries like Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK, and multiple others. The Digital SAT exam is taken within 2 hours and 14 minutes in two modules, i.e., Reading and Writing and Math. The reading and Writing section holds 54 questions that must be solved in 64 minutes. However, Math tests include 44 questions that must be solved within 70 minutes.


Why SAT Turn Digital?

The purpose was to introduce multistage adaptive testing (MST) methodology. The newly added approach assists in measuring the candidate’s ability accurately while enhancing student engagement and lowering the time requirement. It comprises two modules. 

  • Module 1 carries questions with all the difficulty levels, i.e.Easy, medium, and hard. 
  • Module 2 holds a mixture of questions with variable difficulty levels completely based on the candidate’s performance in the first module.

Domain-Wise Breakdown of SAT

Now, let us explore the content of both domains in the SAT exam. 


Domain 1: Reading and Writing

  • Craft and Structure: 13 to 15 questions
  • Information and Ideas: 12 to 14 questions
  • Standard English Conventions: 11 to 15 questions
  • Expression of Ideas: 8 to 12 questions 

Domain 2: Maths

  • Algebra: 13 to 15 questions
  • Advance Maths: 13 to 15 questions
  • Problem-solving and Data analysis: 5 to 7 questions 
  • Geometry and Trigonometry: 5 to 7 questions  

What is ACT?

ACT is another option for candidates to take the equally important global-level exam for higher studies. It is designed for candidates who have passed 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.  The abbreviated form for American College Testing, this test is the standard exam for assessing a candidate’s readiness to be admitted to the majority of the colleges or universities in the United States of America. 

The exam is conducted by and is accepted in 200 colleges globally. Candidates above the age of 13 can take the ACT, regardless of their grade or class. ACT offers online testing options which can be taken in selected locations worldwide. 


It includes four subjects, English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, along with an optional writing test. The minimum score earned in each of the subjects is 1, and the maximum score earned is 36. The results display a composite score, the average of all four subjects, represented in rounded form. 

What is ACT Digital?

ACT has gone online since February 2024 at selected nationwide locations in the country of origin. Currently, the candidates can take the ACT in one of the two available modes, i.e., online or paper and pencil. 


The digital mode has been incorporated to enhance candidates’ confidence and performance by offering the version suited to them. It offers additional features to enhance the ease of candidates. 

The candidates will get accessibility features such as: 

  • Text-to-speech functionality 
  • Answer masking 
  • Support for screen reader users
  • Zoom option

Subject-Wise Breakdown of ACT

The four distinct subjects carry multiple-choice questions. Here are specific time and question limits for each: 

  • English: The candidates get 75 questions to be answered in 45 minutes. 
  • Maths: The subject includes 60 questions solvable in 60 minutes. 
  • Reading and Science: Both subjects contain 40 questions to be answered in 45 minutes each.
  • Writing: The additional and optional writing section requires the candidates to answer 1 prompt in 40 minutes. 

What is the Difference Between the Digital SAT and ACT?

To understand the exams to the fullest by knowing the dividing line between them, let’s go through the SAT ACT difference. These key differences between the Digital SAT and ACT are essential to understanding their basics. 

AspectDigital SATDigital ACT
Test SectionsEvidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math (Optional Essay)English, Math, Reading, Science (Optional Essay)
FormatComputer-based or tabletComputer-based or tablet
Test Length3 hours (without essay), 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay), 3 hours, 35 minutes (with essay)
Scoring400-1600 scale (combined score of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math)A composite score based on average of English, Math, Reading, and Science scores, each scored on a scale of 1-36
Subject AreasEmphasizes critical reading, grammar, and algebraic problem-solvingCovers English grammar and usage, advanced Math concepts, reading comprehension, and scientific reasoning
Question TypesCandidates have to answer the multiple-choice questions comprising Evidence-based reading passages, writing passages, and Math problemsHere, candidates are also required to answer multiple-choice questions. Additionally, there is one optional essay, with reading comprehension, algebraic problem-solving, and scientific reasoning
Math ContentEmphasizes algebra, data analysis, and problem-solvingEmphasizes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, with some questions requiring advanced reasoning skills
Reading ContentFocuses on comprehension, analysis, and interpretation of complex textsTests reading comprehension skills through passages from various subjects, including social studies, natural sciences, and literary fiction
Writing ContentAssesses grammar, usage, and rhetorical skills through multiple-choice questions and an optional essayTests grammar, punctuation, and organization, with an optional essay requiring analysis and argumentation
Science SectionN/A (Science reasoning is integrated throughout the test)Includes a dedicated section testing scientific reasoning and interpretation of data
Preparation MaterialsOfficial College Board resources, practice tests, and online resourcesOfficial ACT resources, practice tests, and online resources
PopularityCommonly accepted in colleges in United States Commonly accepted in colleges in the United States and Canada
Administration DatesOffered several times a yearOffered several times a year
Score ReportingScores released approximately two weeks after the test dateScores released approximately two weeks after the test date
Essay RequirementOptional, but recommended by many colleges and universitiesOptional, but recommended by many colleges and universities
CostVaries by country and regionVaries by country and region


Now that you know the key difference between the Digital SAT and ACT, you will not get confused in deciding which one to take to get admission at your favorite college. You might find challenges in preparation for both tests because of their recent change in pattern, schedule, syllabus, and mode. No worries. Turito has your back! 

Ease your preparation with expert guidance, where they teach you all the aspects of the exam, not just to qualify but to score high. Turito offers training programs to achieve success in SAT, PSAT, IELTS, AP, Study Abroad, Universal Program, NEET, IIT JEE Foundation courses, and much more. Contact us and give your dream a flight with Turito!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the SAT harder than the ACT?

Both SAT and ACT exams are quite challenging to score high on, but nothing is impossible if you are dedicated enough. Get yourself prepared under the guidance of experts, and you can achieve success in a shorter period of time. Turito is the best learning platform where experienced faculties with 30+ years of experience guarantee your success if you are hardworking.

Can I get admission to MIT through the SAT or ACT?

Absolutely! Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) accepts scores from the exams.

 How Do I contact Turito service providers? 

You can call 1800-599-0009 or write to us at for support and guidance.

Digital SAT and ACT


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