What’s a Good SAT Score for Scholarships? | SAT vs ACT Which Is Easier?

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions such as the meaning of ACT and SAT scores, what ACT and SAT stand for, and what constitutes a good SAT and ACT score and other important info

What is the meaning of ACT/SAT Score? ACT and SAT scores are standardized test scores that are often used by colleges and universities in the United States as part of their admissions process.

These scores are used by colleges and universities as one of several factors in their admissions decisions. They help institutions assess a student’s academic abilities and compare applicants from different schools on a standardized scale.

Keep in mind that the weight of these scores in the admissions process can vary from one institution to another, and many colleges also consider other factors such as high school GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and personal essays when making admission decisions.

What Does The ACT Stand For?

The ACT (American College Testing) is a standardized test that assesses a student’s readiness for college. It consists of four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science with an optional Writing section.

Each of these sections of ACT score is on a scale of 1 to 36, and the scores from the individual sections are averaged to provide an overall composite score. The Writing section, if taken, is scored separately.

What Does SAT Stand For?

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is another standardized test used for college admissions. It consists of two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math.

Each of these section SAT scores is on a scale of 200 to 800, and the total SAT score is the sum of these two section scores. The SAT also has an optional Essay section, which is scored separately.

What is a Good SAT and ACT Score?

What’s considered a “good” SAT/ACT score varies based on your goals and the colleges you’re applying to. It’s important to research the admission requirements and the average test scores for the schools you plan to apply to, as different institutions have different expectations.

However, here are the general guidelines for SAT/ACT SCORE:


  • A good SAT score is typically considered to be above the national average, which hovers around 1050-1060 out of a possible 1600 points (combining the Math and EBRW sections).
  • Scores above 1200 are often considered competitive, and scores above 1400 are considered strong for most colleges and universities.
  • For highly selective institutions, especially the Ivy League schools, you would ideally aim for a score above 1500, and some applicants may have scores near or above 1600.


  • A good ACT score is typically considered to be above the national average, which usually falls in the range of 20-21 out of a possible 36 points.
  • Scores above 26-28 are often seen as competitive, and scores above 30 are considered strong for most colleges and universities.
  • For highly competitive institutions, a score in the 32-36 range is often expected.

SAT vs ACT Which Is Easier

Choosing which test is easier depends on your strengths and weaknesses. Both tests are designed to assess your readiness for college. Many colleges accept both the SAT and ACT, so you have the flexibility to choose the test that best suits your strengths.

Let’s examine some of the key distinctions between the SAT/ACT:


  1. Content: The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary, reading, and writing skills. It includes a vocabulary-focused reading section and a mandatory essay (though the essay is optional in some cases).
  2. Math: The SAT math section includes a no-calculator and a calculator section. It focuses more on algebra and data analysis but includes some advanced math concepts.
  3. Science: The SAT does not have a separate science section. Instead, it includes science-related passages within the reading and writing sections.
  4. Scoring: The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600, combining the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math sections.


  1. Content: The ACT covers four distinct sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. The Science section is more data-focused and includes interpreting charts and graphs.
  2. Math: The ACT math section covers a wide range of topics, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Calculators are allowed for the entire math section.
  3. Scoring: The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36 for each section, with a composite score that’s the average of these four section scores.

What is the Purpose of the SAT and ACT Scores

The SAT and ACT in the United States primarily serve the following purposes in college and University admissions which are:

  1. College Admissions: The most prominent purpose of the SAT and ACT is to help colleges and universities assess the academic readiness and potential of prospective students. These test scores provide a standardized measure of a student’s skills and knowledge, allowing institutions to compare applicants from different high schools fairly.
  2. Scholarship Eligibility: Many colleges and scholarship programs use SAT and ACT scores as criteria for awarding merit-based scholarships. Students with higher scores may qualify for more significant financial aid opportunities.
  3. Course Placement: In some cases, colleges use these test scores to determine appropriate course placement. High scores can exempt students from introductory-level courses, allowing them to enroll in more advanced classes.
  4. Standardization: Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT aim to provide a uniform benchmark for assessing students. They help ensure that college admissions decisions are not solely based on high school grades, which can vary significantly between schools.
  5. Data for Research: The data collected from these tests can be valuable for educational research and policy analysis. Researchers use the results to study trends in student performance, evaluate the effectiveness of education systems, and identify areas for improvement.
  6. Accountability: Some K-12 educational systems use these tests to measure the effectiveness of schools and educational programs. These scores can be used for school accountability and to assess how well schools are preparing students for college and careers.

Pros and Cons of Act vs Sat

Here’s a tabular comparison of the pros and cons of the ACT and SAT:

ContentCovers English, Math, Reading, and Science sections.Covers Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math.
Optional EssayThe ACT includes an optional essay section.The SAT includes an optional essay section.
Math SectionIncludes a broader range of math topics and allows a calculator for the entire math section.Has a no-calculator section and a calculator section with an emphasis on algebra.
ReadingIncludes social studies and natural sciences passages in the Reading section.Focuses on a variety of reading comprehension passages without a science section.
Science SectionContains a separate Science section focused on data interpretation and reasoning.Doesn’t have a dedicated Science section but incorporates scientific content in other sections.
ScoringScored on a scale of 1-36 for each of the four sections, with a composite score as the average of these four.Scored on a scale of 200-800 for the EBRW and Math sections, with a total score ranging from 400-1600.
Total Test TimeApproximately 2 hours and 55 minutes (without the optional essay).Approximately 3 hours (without the optional essay).
Calculation of ScoreNo penalty for wrong answers; scores are calculated based on the number of correct answers.There is a penalty for wrong answers (incorrect answers subtract from the raw score).
Preparation MaterialsACT offers official preparation materials.SAT offers official preparation materials.
Test PacingACT generally requires faster pacing as there are more questions in less time.SAT offers more time per question, allowing for a more deliberate pace.
PopularityWidely accepted and used for college admissions.Widely accepted and used for college admissions.
Optional Subject TestsACT does not have separate subject tests.SAT offers subject tests in various subjects, though these are being phased out.
Testing FrequencyOffered 7 times a year.Offered 7 times a year.

Should I Take the Sat or Act Quiz

Deciding whether to take the SAT or ACT is a personal choice and depends on your individual strengths and preferences. To help you make the decision, you can consider the following factors:

  1. Check College Requirements: Start by researching the specific colleges or universities you plan to apply to. Check if they have a preference for one test over the other or if they accept both. Some schools may also have made standardized testing optional.
  2. Take Practice Tests: Consider taking practice tests for both the SAT and ACT. This can give you a sense of which test format and content align better with your skills and comfort level. You might find that you perform better on one test over the other.
  3. Consider Your Strong Subjects: Think about your academic strengths. If you excel in certain subjects or have a strong foundation in math or science, you might lean toward the test that plays to your strengths.
  4. Test Pacing: Consider your test-taking pace. The ACT generally requires faster pacing, as there are more questions in less time. If you work well under time pressure, this might be a factor in your decision.
  5. Math Skills: Assess your math skills and your comfort with calculators. The SAT includes a no-calculator section, while the ACT allows a calculator for the entire math section. Your preference for math testing conditions can be a factor.
  6. Subject Tests: If you’re planning to take subject tests in specific areas, check whether one test offers subject tests that align with your interests and future major.
  7. Location and Test Availability: Consider where you live and the availability of test centers. Both tests are offered at various locations, but one may be more accessible in your region.
  8. Official Resources: Check whether one of the tests provides more official preparation resources that you find helpful.
  9. Your Best Performance: Ultimately, choose the test on which you believe you can perform your best. It’s not just about which test is easier but also about which one allows you to showcase your abilities effectively.

If you’re still uncertain, you could consider taking both the SAT and ACT to see how you perform on each. Some students find that they excel on one test but not the other, and taking both can provide you with more options when applying to colleges.

ACT Scoring

The ACT (American College Testing) is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. Here’s a breakdown of the scoring for each section of the ACT:

  1. English Section: This section consists of 75 multiple-choice questions and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The score is based on the number of correct answers.
  2. Math Section: The Math section also has 60 multiple-choice questions and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, based on the number of correct answers.
  3. Reading Section: The Reading section contains 40 multiple-choice questions and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, based on the number of correct answers.
  4. Science Section: Similar to the other sections, the Science section includes 40 multiple-choice questions and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, based on the number of correct answers.

To arrive at your overall ACT Composite Score, the scores from all four sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) are averaged. This Composite Score also falls within the 1 to 36 range. The optional Writing section of the ACT is scored separately and does not factor into the Composite Score. It is scored on a scale of 2 to 12 and is based on the writing essay’s quality and effectiveness.

Your Composite Score is an average of the four main sections and is rounded to the nearest whole number. For example, if your average is 27.25, your Composite Score would be 27.

It’s important to note that there is no penalty for incorrect answers on the ACT. You earn points only for the questions you answer correctly. Therefore, it’s generally a good strategy to answer all the questions even if you’re unsure, as you have a chance of getting them right.

The Writing section, which is optional, is scored by two different readers who assign a score from 1 to 6 for each of four writing domains (Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions). These domain scores are then averaged to calculate your Writing score, which ranges from 2 to 12.

Do Colleges Prefer ACT or SAT?

Many colleges and universities accepted both the ACT and SAT for admissions. However, it’s essential to recognize that the landscape of college admissions has been evolving, and some important changes have occurred:

  1. Test-Optional Policies: A growing number of colleges and universities have adopted test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies. Under these policies, students are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application. This change has been influenced by concerns about equity and access, especially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted standardized testing opportunities.
  2. Test-Blind Policies: Some schools have gone further and adopted test-blind policies, which means they will not consider SAT or ACT scores even if students submit them. They focus primarily on other aspects of the application, such as high school GPA, coursework, essays, and extracurricular activities.
  3. Holistic Admissions: Even for schools that still require or consider standardized test scores, many have increasingly emphasized a holistic admissions process. This means that they consider a broad range of factors, not just test scores, when making admissions decisions. High school grades, the rigor of coursework, recommendation letters, and personal statements are often given significant weight.
  4. Diversity and Inclusion: Some institutions are moving away from standardized tests as they believe these tests can create barriers for underrepresented minority and low-income students. They want to create more inclusive admissions processes.

Given these changes, it’s essential for prospective college applicants to check the specific admissions policies of the schools they’re interested in. Some colleges may still prefer one test over the other if they require standardized test scores, but it varies widely.

What’s a Good SAT Score for Scholarships?

The specific SAT score required for scholarships can vary widely depending on the scholarship program, the university or organization offering the scholarship, and the competitiveness of the award. What constitutes a “good” SAT score for scholarships will depend on these factors, but here are some general guidelines to help you understand what you might need:

  1. Merit-Based Scholarships: Many scholarships are merit-based, meaning they are awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, leadership, or specific talents. To be competitive for these scholarships, a strong SAT score is often required. Scores well above the national average (around 1050-1060) can make you a competitive candidate.
  2. National Merit Scholarships: The National Merit Scholarship Program is one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the United States. To qualify as a National Merit Scholar, you typically need to score in the top 1% of test-takers on the PSAT/NMSQT, which is a precursor to the SAT. This requirement may vary by state and year.
  3. Institutional Scholarships: Many colleges and universities offer their own scholarship programs, and the requirements for these scholarships can vary widely. Some may consider SAT scores as part of their criteria, so it’s important to research the specific requirements of the institutions you are interested in.
  4. Corporate and Private Scholarships: Private organizations and corporations also offer scholarships, and their criteria can vary significantly. Some may require high SAT scores, while others may place more emphasis on other factors like community involvement, leadership, or specific achievements.
  5. Local Scholarships: Some community-based scholarships are offered by local organizations, and their criteria may be less competitive than national or institutional scholarships. These may have varying SAT score requirements or none at all.

Here is one the University you can apply for with your ACT/SAT Scores


Remember that colleges and universities place a growing emphasis on other aspects of your application, such as your high school GPA, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation. While test scores are important, they are just one part of the admissions process.

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