In molecular population genetics, adaptation is typically thought to occur via selective sweeps, where targets of selection have independent effects on the phenotype and rise to fixation, whereas in quantitative genetics, many loci contribute to the phenotype and subtle frequency changes occur at many loci during polygenic adaptation. The sweep model makes specific predictions about frequency changes of beneficial alleles and many test statistics have been developed to detect such selection signatures. Despite polygenic adaptation is probably the prevalent mode of adaptation, because of the traditional focus on the phenotype, we are lacking a solid understanding of the similarities and differences of selection signatures under the two models. Recent theoretical and empirical studies have shown that both selective sweep and polygenic adaptation models could result in a sweep-like genomic signature; therefore, additional criteria are needed to distinguish the two models. With replicated populations and time series data, experimental evolution studies have the potential to identify the underlying model of adaptation. Using the framework of experimental evolution, we performed computer simulations to study the pattern of selected alleles for two models: 1) adaptation of a trait via independent beneficial mutations that are conditioned for fixation, that is, selective sweep model and 2) trait optimum model (polygenic adaptation), that is adaptation of a quantitative trait under stabilizing selection after a sudden shift in trait optimum. We identify several distinct patterns of selective sweep and trait optimum models in populations of different sizes. These features could provide the foundation for development of quantitative approaches to differentiate the two models. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.