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How Long Do SAT And ACT Last?

SAT rhymes with cat, hat, pet and cricket bat and ACT rhymes with optic tract, artifact, and piggybacked.

What’s the point of that information? There’s none actually – we just thought you might want to be slightly distracted before taking one of those exams because to be honest, their length is quite enormous.

Although they may be titled differently, the truth is they share a great deal of similarities, in other words, they are almost “twinzies”, contrasting only in time length.

Both ACT and SAT serve to identify:

  • Student’s preparedness for further “grown-up” education in college
  • Amount of already acquired school knowledge
  • Academic achievement
  • Skill of processing new information
  • Capability to undergo continuous psychological pressure
  • Prowess to maintain the exam’s tempo

That’s right the last aspect isn’t any less important than the others – perhaps you may not have noticed it, but the world around us is organized by some elusive yet extremely powerful and catchy rhythm.

And those, who are able not to lose that rhythm and manage their time in compliance with it, actually never fail at being successful.

Now let’s review examinations length and components.

ACT – how long is it?

ACT time length includes a certain number of test sections, one short break for 10 minutes and one optional section – the essay writing.

Let’s revise the exact time amount intended for each segment:

  • English language test - 45 mins, 75 questions,
  • Math - 60 mins, 60 questions,
  • Reading - 35 mins, 40 questions,
  • Science - 35 mins, 40 questions,
  • Essay (non-obligatory) - 40 mins.

As you can see, the number of questions is either equal or exceed the amount of time that you may spend. That’s why it is strongly recommended for you to learn basic time-management techniques in advance and also memorize some of the test-passing tips, given below.

ACT test, with breaks included, lasts for 185 minutes without the essay (3 hr. 5 mins) and 225 minutes with the essay (3 hr. 45 mins).

So if we presumably set your ACT test start time at 9:00 AM and you’re planning to play hardcore and choose the essay-option, then you may feel free to schedule your personal driver mother to pick you up at 12:50.

SAT – how long?

SAT timetable is somewhat similar to that of the ACT, although it excludes the science section. There was an older version the exam which divided each segment into 10 mini-parts.

However, the new SAT requires you to deal with each subject in a single, undivided almost gigantic block.

Here’s the detailed revision of the SAT timetable:

  • Reading – 65 mins, 52 questions
  • Writing – 35 mins, 44 questions,
  • Math – 25 mins, 20 questions (no calculator)/55 mins, 38 questions
  • Essay (non-obligatory) – 50 mins

The SAT test with breaks included lasts for 180 minutes (3 hrs.) without the essay and 230 minutes with the essay (3 hr. 50 mins).

The distinguishable feature of the SAT is its intensity: a ceaseless avalanche of questions will make you forget about the actual length of the exam since you’ll be occupied with questions popping up as fast as a notorious mole in the Whac-a-Mole arcade game.

Pre-examination procedures

You must arrive at the testing center at 7:30 or 7:45 AM the latest.

There are some excusable reasons for lifting your sleepy head this early:

  • The student checking-in procedure must be accomplished by 8:00 o’clock sharp
  • No one, arriving after that time will be allowed to pass the test
  • You’ll need some time to get registered yourself, find the classroom and your own seat and also wish good luck to your pals
  • Before going to the examination you’ll need to energize your brains with a complex breakfast: the sugars, fats, and carbohydrates are critical for the quick thinking, and also they postpone the fatigue, which you might experience later, during the exam

All SAT and ACT examinations take place on a Saturday, morning. But if you belong to a specific congregation, which forbids you working/studying on Saturdays like Hebrews for example, your exam date can be re-appointed.

NOTE: Keep your admission ticket by yourself all the time, until the test is over.

Preparations: take your number 2

You don’t want to be in the state of a commotion on the examination day’s morning, packing your bag in desperate haste.

In order to avoid that pandemonium, make sure you have prepared the following items in advance:

  • Your clothes
  • The admission ticket – don’t leave it at home
  • Your ID
  • 2, 3 (best it’d be 5) number 2 pencils and two erasers, just in case you lose one, or one of your bros forgets to bring his own
  • A calculator – bringing a smartphone is not an option since all communication devices are forbidden
  • Water – nothing is as refreshing as rehydration so bring a (non-alcoholic) drink of your choice
  • Snacks – during a break you’ll be able to refuel your brains with precious glucose

Fight for your right!

It’s been discovered that some of the proctors, for unexplainable reasons skip the breaks and force students to get to the next part at once, not giving them a chance to rest. This is both unacceptable and unforgivable.

Should the same misfortune happen to you, you must whether demand your rightful intermission or contact the College Board or the ACT/SAT office and file a complaint, when the examination is over.

  • College Board:
  • ACT:
  • SAT:

Time management tips and tricks

  • During the exam, the time will keep on slipping away fiercely, but luckily there are some strategies that you can adopt and use, to win some of it back:
  • Do the practice tests – if you learn all the instructions in advance, you won’t waste your time reading them,
  • The fact that you’re already familiar with the questions and standard form will provide you with psychological comfort and as a result, boosted confidence,
  • Avoid indecisiveness at all costs – if you feel that the answer you picked is correct, just mark it and move further!
  • In that context, the name of a cult American band must become your motto: no doubt,
  • Don’t make your essay too elaborate – you’re not going for a Pulitzer Prize here, just trying to get some good scores.
  • Thus do not oversaturate your creation with examples, allusions, references and so on.
  • Use the “Keep It Simple” strategy,
  • Have the easy questions done first and only then return to those you don’t quite understand: it’s called “skip – come back” tactic.


In older times the English boxers had to stand for twenty or thirty rounds in a row until one of them fell on the ground breathless from fatigue – only then the competitor who was standing on his feet would be titled the champion. Then he would join his less successful rival on the same aforementioned floor.

As you can see, such an outstanding feat would impossible without well-developed stamina.

And maybe solving an equation or writing an essay about self-sacrifice in the name of higher good is not exactly similar to devastating uppercuts or tricky backhands, but they are almost as much energy-consuming! So, at least some morning exercises might prove beneficial to your scores in the long run.

We sincerely hope you’ll find this information useful. And as always top of the luck to you!

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