USA, America, SAT, ACT, Admissions

Admissions tests for studying in America

If you want to study as an international student at a US university, you will probably have to take an admissions test. There are two main exam tests in the US – the SAT and the ACT.

What is an admissions test?

Standardised admissions tests are one way university assess different applications and decide between candidates. Admissions tests are also an easy way for US admission staff to help compare international students when many are coming from a variety of educational systems.

International students coming from countries where English is not the first language will be expected to take an English Language Proficiency Exam too.

SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT?

The two main admissions tests accepted in the US are the SAT reasoning Test and the ACT. You should check your department’s admission page to see which is relevant to you.

SAT Reasoning Test

The SAT Reasoning Test is a three hour and forty-five minute test which examines three key areas – Critical Reading, Maths and Writing. For top courses, you may also be expected to take an SAT Subject Test, which examine your skills in specific subjects. The Subject Tests are one-hour multiple choice tests.


Each section of the SAT allows a score between 200-800 points, meaning that the overall score range is from 600-2,400. Test takers will be given both a raw score and a percentile mark. The higher the percentile mark, the better the student has done.

Testing fees for SAT

Reasoning Test: $50 registration fee + international processing fee of $31.
First basic subject test: $23 registration fee + international processing fee of $31.


The ACT is a two hour fifty-five minute test which also includes an optional 30 minute Writing section. Students are tested on English, Maths, Reading and Science Reasoning.

Some universities see the ACT as more testing than the SAT Reasoning, as the ACT has a Science Reasoning section and the

Maths module is measured at a higher level.


Scores for the four sections of the ACT range between 1 and 36 with 36 being the highest possible score. Test takers will be give an average composite score from the four tests taken as well as raw scale score compared to other test takers.

Testing fee for the ACT - $34 registration + $27 international processing. Writing section is an additional $15.50.