SAT and ACT: Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Fees, Test Centres and 2019 Exam Dates in India

SAT  (Scholastic Assessment Test)  and ACT (American College Testing)  are the standardized tests conducted by the educational board of America on behalf of many universities, for the students who are willing to join undergraduate courses abroad. In this post, we will look at the SAT and ACT exam pattern, syllabus, and 2019 exam dates.


SAT and ACT are basically for the students who want to join various under graduation courses. It is developed to evaluate the aspirant’s knowledge in various aspects like written, verbal and mathematical skills. These tests help the aspirants to showcase their knowledge in various subjects like Literature, History, Mathematics, Sciences, and Foreign Language. According to new policies made by The National Centre for Fair & Open Testing (Fair Test), both SAT and ACT are the best ways of assessing the undergraduate students and both scores are very important to pursue an admission in top American universities.



Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Fees, Test Centres, 2019 Exam Dates in India, and Preparation Tips

Co-authored by Parinita Gupta


Both SAT and ACT are the most popular tests to study abroad. SAT and ACT are quite similar but some universities accept SAT score while other universities accept ACT score. Based on these scores, aspirants generally receive scholarships and other kinds of benefits during the entire admission process. All High school roll out students is eligible to attend this SAT and ACT examination.




Major Differences between SAT and ACTThere is no much difference between ACT and SAT but the major difference which differentiates both are mentioned below:


Infographic Credit: Student-Tutor


SAT and ACT both have Reading, Mathematics and Essay topics, where the candidate is assessed based on the reading, writing in English and problem-solving skills in mathematics. In addition to these common topics, ACT has an additional subject, Science as the main topic. Read more on SAT vs ACT.


SAT Syllabus


Reading: The reading section has questions related to reading passages, and each passage consists of 10-11 questions. There are 5 of them in total, and the length of the passages vary. The primary purpose of the section is to assess the candidate’s ability to understand and assimilate written text. The candidate is expected to know the meaning of words in context, along with associated variations in implied meanings and impact due to the exact word usage.


English, Writing, and Language: Writing section has 4 passages, with each passage associated with 10-11 questions. A candidate is expected to spot errors, rephrase marked/highlighted sentences with better alternatives etc. Main focal point revolves around the usage and understanding of grammar. Since the student is applying for a foreign university, vocabulary, Grammar, Editing of the sentences and punctuations are considered well.


Mathematics: The Math section is 80 minutes long and has 58 questions. It has a couple of basic sub-sections: a 25-minute section (no calculator) and a 55-minute section (calculator allowed). Math questions involve knowledge of subject areas such as arithmetic, geometry, algebra, statistics, and probability. It also involves data interpretation from tables/graphs and problem-solving.


For Mathematics, it is usually a good idea to identify your areas of improvement early on (insufficient grasp of fundamentals, or skewed time management etc). Once you zero-in on a deficiency, it is advisable to devise a laser-focused strategy to strengthen the deficiency.


Essay (Optional): Essays are completely an optional question but this essay section will test the comprehension skills of the candidate. The time allotted for this task is 50 minutes, and it is meant to assess your understanding of the given data/case and the quality of your writing. 650-700 is the expected length of the essay, and the candidate should take a stance on the issue at hand. However, expounding on personal opinions is not expected and the purview is limited to the given data. Precise language in a logical and consistent manner fetches good marks.


Read more on SAT syllabus.


SAT Exam Pattern


SAT is developed and published by the College Board. It is administered by Educational Testing Services worldwide on behalf of the College Board in over 25,000 test centers across 192 countries.


In SAT, Total 3 hours of time is allotted without essay type question and 3hrs 50minutes is allotted for with essay type exam pattern.


A candidate has to score the minimum of 400 marks or a score between 400-1600 to get qualified in the examination.  Students will have a limited chance of using the calculator i.e only for the specific questions.


The SAT exam is consists of 3 major sections: Writing, Mathematics and Critical Reading.


Essay remains a separate component of the test (if you choose a test with Essay), and its score does not register in the overall test score of 1600. No penalty is awarded for incorrect responses, and all questions carry equal weight (unless specified). Most of the test questions are multiple-choice- 4 choices given of which 1 is correct.


SAT Exam Pattern
Table Source: MBA Crystal Ball


SAT Fees


SAT registration costs between USD 52.50 to USD 101.50 depending upon the country. For Indian applicants, the fee for SAT comes out to be ~$106 (with written essay), or ~$94 (without essay).

In INR, the SAT exam fee is around Rs. 6,200 – 7,000.


SAT Exam Dates and Test Centers


SAT is conducted nearly 7 times a year between October to June. Candidates have to apply for the SAT exam on SAT official website and have to prepare accordingly. The test dates are generally based on an upcoming semester or the fall semester.


SAT 2019 Test Dates in India


SAT 2019 Test Dates India


The test centers for SAT can be found in different cities in India, and it is a good idea to book early to avoid the last-minute rush (especially in the peak application season) and head to the preferred test location.


Read more on SAT Registration online.


Recommended Video on SAT and ACT Test Plan Recommendation for High School Students



ACT Syllabus


ACT has four test sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science- total duration of 3 hours. The writing section is optional and adds another 40 minutes to the total duration. It is an MCQ (multiple choice questions) based test with 215 questions in total. The scores on every section vary from a low of 1 to a high of 36. The total test score is an average of all section scores.


English: This section contains 5 passages for a total of 75 multiple-choice questions. The questions are detail-based or overall idea/big-picture based, in relation to a particular paragraph or the whole passage.


The two skills that are tested primarily are Usage and Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills. Usage and Mechanics test you on your understanding of grammar rules (usage, punctuation, and sentence structure). Rhetorical Skills deal with your abstract understanding or comprehension of the passage.




  • Pre-Algebra: comprises of 20-25% of the total questions. It includes number problems, multiples/factors/primes, divisibility, percentages, fractions, square roots, ratios, mean/median/mode, probability, place values, absolute values, exponents, series, simple descriptive statistics.
  • Elementary Algebra: comprises of 15-20% of the total questions. It includes substitution, simplifying expressions, solving linear equations, inequalities, multiplying binomials, solving quadratic equations.
  • Intermediate Algebra: comprises of 15-20% of the total questions. It includes solving systems of equations, functions, matrices, logarithms, inequalities, sequences and patterns, complex numbers.
  • Coordinate Geometry: comprises of 15-20% of the total questions. It includes number lines, graphing inequalities, distance and mid-points, slope calculation, parallel/perpendicular lines, line equation, conic sections.
  • Plane Geometry: comprises of 20-25% of the total questions. It includes lines and angles, triangles, polygons, circles, 3-D geometry, volume, properties of circles, triangles, and parallelograms.
  • Trigonometry: comprises of 5-10% of the total questions. It includes solving triangles, trigonometric identities, and graphs, graphing trigonometric functions, solving trigonometric equations.


Reading: This section contains 4 passages for a total of 40 multiple-choice questions. The passages will represent four broad areas: social science, humanities, natural science, and literary fiction.


Reading skills are varied and include the ability to understand central ideas, locate details within a written text, decoding the flow of ideas, understanding cause/effect and comparisons, contextual understanding of phrases, and analyzing the tone and purpose of the author.


Science: This section contains 7 passages for a total of 40 multiple-choice questions. The passages are frequently accompanied by diagrams such as tables, charts, and graphs. The topics that are tested revolve around Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Sciences.

The skills required to ace this section have more to do with the kind of reasoning developed while learning the scientific method rather than just the raw memorization of facts and figures. Knowledge of the theory behind hypothesis testing and the ability to collect and analyze data are important skills when it comes to the Science section.


Data Representation questions test you on your ability to decipher graphs/scatter-plots/tables, along with your ability to use the presented information. Research Summaries test you on your understanding of the design-of-experiments and associated results as described in the passage. Conflicting Viewpoints gauges your ability to analyze divergent viewpoints. The questions revolve around a central idea, and you need to critically examine the two viewpoints presented.


Writing (Optional): The cogency of an essay is paramount for the ACT. The ability to assimilate different lines of reasoning and stitch it into a coherent and compelling written piece will earn you a high score. Given the time constraint, a well-polished first draft is expected and not a technically perfect written specimen.


A short passage is given on a certain topic, which is accompanied by 3 different viewpoints on the same. Your task is to analyze the viewpoints, elucidate their merits/demerits, identify flaws in reasoning (if any), discuss caveats, contrast one argument against the others and discuss the scope of improvements.


ACT Exam Pattern


ACT Exam Pattern
Table Source: MBA Crystal Ball


ACT Test Dates and Test Centres


The ACT test is conducted 6 times a year and the student will have a chance to select the test date and location before two months ahead of the application deadline.


However, International students have 5 test dates allotted in total, and 3 of them fall in the September to December season. In general, you need to register for the test at least 1 month prior to the test date. If you want to be on the safer side, it is advisable to appear for it 1st in April/June to have a time-window for improvement in the usually rushed fall season. That would allow for plenty of time to learn from your mistakes and formulate a plan for capitalizing on the strengths, in case you decide to sit for the exam for the 2nd time in the fall season (around September).


ACT 2019 Exam Dates India


ACT 2019 Exam Dates India


Here is a link to locate ACT test centers in India. It is a good idea to do some preliminary research about testing centers, as the setting of the test might play a role in your disposition (and hence performance). Moreover, it is advisable to book the best slot/center combination as early as possible.


ACT Fees


Basically, the fee for both SAT and ACT exams are quite the same.


For an international student, the basic fee will be $46 – $58 without essay and $60- $93 with essay type exam. ACT with no writing component costs $46, whereas ACT with a writing component costs $62.50. However, there is an additional international testing fee of $57.50.


In India, it costs something around INR 6, 000 – 7,700 depending on the dollar rate.  Please visit the official website to know another kind of extra charges in the fee.


What’s a good score on the SAT and ACT?


There is no good score a or bad score. It entirely depends on the schools you are applying to. If you are eyeing the top colleges (Ivy League and Elite Schools), you should target to score 1400 – 1500 on the SAT or 31 – 35 in the ACT.


SAT and ACT Preparation Tips


  • SAT and Act are preliminary exams to get an admission for an undergraduate course in US and Canada, Since it is for an undergraduate course, Most of the syllabus comes from the High school level or 12th standard only.
  • Apart from these there are much ACT and SAT preparatory books and guides which guides the student to score well.
  • There are many coaching centers and online teaching sites. These Online sites and coaching centers help the student to prepare well and appropriately according to the exam pattern.
  • Reading various kinds of books, vocabulary building books, Grammar related books will be helpful to score well in the exam.
  • Listening to the online classes helps the students in gaining analytical and evaluating skills. This builds the pronunciation of the words in English.
  • Strong knowledge of algebraic expressions and calculations with or without the calculator will really help you to fetch good scores in the tests.
  • Attending as many as Mock sessions in each subject will be really helpful in scoring more and getting admission in the best possible college in the US and Canada.


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SAT/ACT Conversion Table

The Oft-Ignored Way to Higher SAT and ACT Scores

One Easy Technique for Raising Your SAT & ACT Reading Scores

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