The SAT and the ACT are tests widely used for college admissions in the United States. You need to achieve a good score on one of them to be able to study and play in the US.


It measures literacy, numeracy and writing skills. Scores on the SAT range from 400 to 1600, combining test results in:

  • Critical Reading and Writing (800 points).
  • Mathematics (800 points);

Important note:
It is worth noting that most colleges will ‘superscore’ the SAT, which means they will take the highest of all the scores you submit. For example, if you get a score of 500 in Maths and 400 in the Critical Reading and Writing first time around (total score of 900), then 400 in Maths and 500 in Critical Reading and Writing second time around (total score of 900), you can take the best scores from both tests (500 in Maths from the first test and 500 in Critical Reading and Writing from the second test) to give you a better overall score (1,000).

The SAT has 4 sections:

  • Reading;
  • Writing and Language;
  • Maths (no calculator);
  • Maths (calculator allowed).

Most of the questions on the SAT are multiple choice. All multiple-choice questions have four answer choices, one of which is correct. Students have 3 hours to finish. Students can also
choose to take the SAT with essay. They get an extra 50 minutes to complete the essay.

Why take the SAT with essay?

Some US schools and colleges require an applicant to take the SAT with essay as a way to further evaluate their writing skills.


The ACT measures literacy, numeracy, writing skills and science knowledge. Scores on the ACT range from 1 to 36. Each of the 4 multiple-choice sections is marked out of 36, with your overall score being the average of the 4. Students have 2 hours and 55 minutes to finish.

The ACT has 4 sections:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Reading
  • Science

Students can also take an optional writing test. They get an extra 40 minutes to complete it.

How do I register for the SAT and the ACT?

The SAT is administered by the College Board in the United States, so the first step is to create a College Board account.  

The SAT costs around £100 to take and is offered four times a year for students outside of the US: in October, December, March and May. The test is typically offered on the first Saturday of the month. Dates and venues for tests can be found on the College Board website.

The ACT is administered by ACT, a non-profit organisation of the same name. Visit the ACT website to create an account.

The ACT costs around £100 to take and there are numerous test weekends every year. Dates and venues for tests can be found on the ACT website. It is advised to book early for the tests in your area as places go quickly. Be aware, you may have to travel to take the test as venues can get booked up.

Can I practice for the SAT and ACT?

Yes. We advise you to practice as it’s very different to what you are used to. There are numerous online resources. The College Board and ACT websites have practice tests. The Khan Academy is also a good source of SAT tests.

4 reasons to take the SAT and ACT early

  • A good SAT and/or ACT score is a fantastic way to get noticed by coaches;
  • The SAT focuses on English and Maths. The ACT focuses on English, Maths and Science. So taking them when you have all that knowledge in your head from your GCSE studies can only be a good thing;
  • Taking the SAT and/or ACT early allows you to take it again to improve your score;
  • Taking the SAT and/or ACT early means you can free yourself up to concentrate on your A levels and/or BTECs as well as your basketball.