What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

FSATAT is dedicated to helping students prepare for the next calling in their lives; specifically the ACT and SAT.

When I was growing up, the ACT was a second rate exam which only Midwest and southern colleges accepted.  Not so anymore.  Most if not colleges accept it.

The ACT test assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work.  It does this by assessing students’ performance in high school and, therefore, it is more a measure of college readiness than it is a prediction of college performance.

The converse is true for the SAT.  The SAT is a critical thinking, skill based test.  It is very much like the IQ test.

The ACT is an achievement verses IQ aptitude test. An achievement test is based upon a corpus of information. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. If students are competent in these areas, if they know enough information related to these disciplines, and can apply this information to cognitive challenges,

In that sense, the ACT is of the same genre as an Iowa Basic or Stanford Achievement test.

The SAT,  as I said, is an IQ type test. It is not based upon epistemology; it is based upon critical thinking. In other words, the SAT measures students’  ability to problem solve. The ACT measures students’ knowledge acquisition. Therefore, the SAT preparation ideally needs a commitment of one to three years.

Students cannot raise their IQ scores nor improve critical thinking skills overnight, or even in two months. But students can raise ACT scores in 50 days.

The single best preparation event for the SAT & the ACT is active reading of challenging literary works. Students should read about one book per week.  I have included a free college prep reading list.

What Is It?

Like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test. With the exception of the optional writing section, all of the questions are multiple choice. There are 215 questions in all, and the exam takes about three hours to complete. The questions focus on four core academic subject areas: math, English, reading, and science, and scores range between 1 and 36.

What does the ACT measure?

ACT questions focus upon academic knowledge that high school and therefore an unfair assessment tool.

How Are ACT Scores used by Colleges?

Exactly how students’ ACT scores will be used by a college varies from school to school. In some schools, a student’s ACT score, along with their GPA, is the chief criteria upon which acceptance decisions are made. At other schools, ACT scores play only a minor role in determining acceptance, and applicants’ GPA, class rank, and cultural backgrounds may be viewed as more important.

Here is some special information about preparing for the ACT and SAT:

Mathematics — Students are tested on mathematical concepts and practices endemic to 11th grade goals. The test is designed to check for mathematical reasoning and basic computational skills, so no complex formulas or elaborate computations will be included in the exam. Calculators are allowed, although there are restrictions.

For a long time, the SAT was by far the most popular college entrance exam in the United States. Even though a high percentage of high school students who hope to go on to a university still rely on the SAT to show their academic prowess, the ACT has gained a lot of ground over the years. The ACT is divided into four individual subject examinations, each one covering a separate subject area. The material includes:

Reading — Students are tested on direct reading comprehension and inference based on the material presented. Similar to the English exam, the test consists of several different literary genre passages from multiple disciplines, which are followed by several questions on the passage. Since reading skills such as determining the main idea and understanding causal relationships are being tested, rote fact checking is not included in the exam.

Writing — The writing test, which is an optional test on the ACT (but not on the SAT), measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.  Colleges compare the ACT essay with student college admission essays. If there are marked differences, the ACT essay can hurt student admission chances. On the other hand, if the ACT essay is better than the college admission essay, then students have a much better chance to be admitted and receive a scholarship at aforementioned colleges.

English — Students are tested on grammar rules and rhetorical skills. Rhetoric requires students to discern the writing strategy of a passage. The exam consists of several literary passages, which are followed by several questions on the passage or selected parts.

Science — Students are tested on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students should have had courses in biology, earth sciences, and the physical sciences by the 11th grade. The test consists of several data sets presented as data representation (graphs, charts, etc.) and research expressions of conflicting hypotheses, which are followed by several questions after each set. Calculators are not allowed during the science exam.

More than ever before America is hungry for new, talented leaders. The ACT and the SAT are gates that must be opened for students to enter that path.  Can you imagine what America will look like with 1 to 2 million new, sprit-filled, evangelical leaders? FSATAT is committed to making that happen!




1. The SAT is unimportant; Colleges only look at GPA and transcripts.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.  In this age of unequal public and private high schools, the SAT is the great equalizing factor. It is the penultimate and most preferred college admission credential.

2. The PSAT is a good indicator of SAT performance.

According to CollegeBoard, There is absolutely no data to support this statement.  On the contrary, students usually do much better on the SAT than they do in the PSAT.

3. The PSAT is necessary for college scholarships.

This is absolutely untrue!  Colleges could care less about PSAT.  They are only interested in SAT scores.  The PSAT is only important if it leads to a National Merit Scholarship.

4. I don’t need to prepare.  All I need to do is take a few tests and my score will go up.

There is no correlation between frequency of taking this aptitude/IQ test and increased scores.  Students score + or – 8 points every time that they take it.

5. The writing portion of the SAT is unimportant.  College do not use it.

Most colleges do examine the SAT Writing score; 100% prefer it.  Colleges compare the Writing Exam essay to the college application essay that most students submit.  My SAT Preparation book provides a free College Admission Section.

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