The ACT and SAT are both timed standardized tests used for college admissions, so it’s really important to know how long you can afford to spend per question. Knowing the timing differences between the two tests can also be one factor you consider when choosing the right one for you. Additionally, make sure you do timed practice tests so you can work on time management and managing stress on the actual exam.   

SAT Time Breakdown

Reading: 65 minutes for 5 passages with 52 questions = 13 minutes per passage

Writing and Language: 35 minutes for 44 questions = 48 seconds per question

Math (No Calculator): 25 minutes for 20 questions = 1 minute 15 seconds per question

Math (with Calculator): 55 minutes for 38 questions = 1 minute 37 seconds per question

Essay (optional): 50 minutes 


ACT Time Breakdown

English: 45 minutes for 75 questions = 36 seconds per question

Math: 60 minutes for 60 questions = 60 seconds per question

Reading: 35 minutes for 40 questions = 52 seconds per question

Science: 35 minutes for 40 questions = 52 seconds per question

Writing Essay (optional): 40 minutes

Keep in mind that these are average times per question, so you may spend more time on some questions and less on others. The main thing is that you budget your time, which means don’t spend too long on any one question. You can also bring a watch in case your testing center doesn’t provide a timer. Just remember to avoid smartwatches and to turn all alarms off. If you need accommodations, check out the ACT and SAT websites for more information. 


Leave a Comment