What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?
- The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.
- The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test. The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.
- The College Board introduced a new version of the SAT in 2005, with a mandatory writing test. ACT continues to offer its well-established test, plus an optional writing test. You take the ACT Writing Test only if required or requested by the college(s) you're applying to.
- The SAT penalizes you for wrong answers, so guessing is discouraged. The ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers with no penalty for guessing.
- The ACT has an Interest Inventory that allows students to evaluate their interests in various career options.
The SAT and ACT are standardized, objective tests that are required for entrance into four-year colleges and universities. Your scores show colleges how ready you are to handle the work at their institutions and how your skills compare with other applicants. As a high school Junior, you should be preparing to take these exams during the spring of your Junior year or at the latest, fall of your Senior year.
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), a short form of the SAT, measures verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities. It serves four purposes:
- Allows students to compare their academic abilities with other college-bound students at their specific grade level.
- Familiarizes students with the SAT.
- Shows the student areas on which he/she may need to concentrate additional preparation before taking the SAT.
- Allows college-bound juniors to compete for National Merit Scholarship.
The test is offered only in October and should be taken by all sophomores and college-bound juniors. Freshman are encouraged to take the test for practice.
Once you receive results & access code, go to Collegeboard's My College QuickStart. This site will give you a personalized online PSAT score report, personalized SAT study plan, and an interactive college/career/major match. This letter will give you more information about how to utilize QuickStart. This PSAT powerpoint presentation advises students on using the feedback provided in the score report and in My College QuickStart™ to improve their academic skills and plan for college and beyond. For the parents, a Parent Tutorial for Understanding PSAT/NMSQT Results.
- Method of Scoring: Scores adjusted for guessing. Penalty for incorrect responses.
- Test Score Scales: 200-800 on each of three areas: Critical Reading (formerly Verbal), Writing, Math
- Total: 600-2400 (sum of Critical Reading (formerly Verbal), Writing, & Math)
SAT II tests are required at many competitive colleges. Check with the admissions office at the school to which you are applying. The Subject Tests measure students’ knowledge and skills in a particular subject and their ability to apply that knowledge.
- Method of Scoring: Scores based on number of right answers. No penalty for guessing.
- Test Score Scales: 1-36 for each four sections. English 25%; Reading 25%; Math 25%; Social Science 25%
- Composite: 1-36 (average of 4 test scores)
*The ACT is offered on the FMHS Campus. If you are interested in taking it here, make sure you select it when you register for the test. It will NOT be offered for the June test - as we have graduation that day. Make sure you register for the April test if you want to take it here.
How to prepare for the PSAT, SAT or ACT:
- Take the FMHS SAT/ACT Prep course.
- Use an outside preparation agency.
- Go online to the Collegeboard or ACT preparation websites.
- Go to FMHS PSAT and SAT Test help page.
- Go to March2Success for SAT, ACT, TAKS, ASVAB test prep
Advanced Placement Examinations are administered at SHS during the spring of each year. These exams are based upon college-level courses taught in high school. Exam scores are reported on a five-point scale with five being the highest score. A score of three or better is acceptable for advanced placement and college credit by most colleges.