• Admissions Tests



    • Completion of the ACT or SAT is a graduation requirement.
    • The ACT and SAT are normally treated interchangeably by admissions offices. 
    • The state of TN pays for two free ACT tests for every high school graduate, which is why the ACT is more common in TN. 
    • Public colleges in Tennessee require an ACT or SAT for admission!
    • Many colleges (not all) and programs use ACT or SAT scores in their admissions decisions. 
    • Some schools (very few) specifically require one test or the other. Also, some schools (very few) require the writing portion of the tests. Check the requirements for the colleges to which you are applying on their admissions website. 
    • Don't do well the first time you take it? You get to take it two times for FREE (March of Junior year, October of Senior year) at FHS!
    • You can take it up to 12 times if you like. (Not recommended. This should not become an extracurricular activity.)
    • You may qualify for a fee waiver. See below.



    1. It's a state graduation requirement. 
    2. 21 composite test score (or 1080 SAT) = HOPE Lottery Scholarship. Go Here for more info!
    3. Public colleges in TN require an ACT or SAT score for admission.
    4. College Honors Programs and private scholarship applications often require ACT/SAT test scores as part of the application.
    5. The scores are often used for initial placement into college courses. 


    School Day (“State”) ACT

    National Test Day ACT

    • Cost: Free, no registration needed
    • Who can take it:
      • Jrs take the school day ACT in spring
      • Srs take the school day ACT in fall
    • Send scores to 4 colleges for free
    • Cost: $55 
    • The national ACT is offered 10-11 times annually, check http://www.act.org/ for times and to register.
    • Send scores to 4 colleges for free



    Q AND A

    Q: Do I have to take both the ACT and the SAT?

    NO! These tests are interchangeable with very few exceptions (like, maybe 5 schools in the US). Check the requirements for the colleges to which you are applying on their admissions website. 


    Q: How do I send test scores to colleges?

    a. When you register to take the ACT and SAT tests, you can send 4 ACT scores for free (6 SAT scores). They will be received @ 3 weeks after you take the test. You will not be able to see the score before you send it. 

    b. If you did not do this, you will need to login to MyACT (for ACTs) or College Board (for SAT and APs) and send them from there. There is a charge for doing this. Scores generally arrive in about three weeks. 


    Q: I already took the ACT as a junior. Should I retake it as a Senior? 

    YES! You have the opportunity to take the ACT twice for FREE (at school- once during junior and senior year). Sometimes students need to take the ACT two or three times (or more!) to maximize their score. 

    Some colleges use the “superscore” method: colleges consider your highest section score across all the dates you took the ACT.

    Here are suggestions on how to decide whether to retake it a third (or fourth) time:

    • What are the scores necessary for your target schools or target scholarships?
      • SCOIR lists midrange ACTs for colleges. Aim to be at or above posted average ACT score.
      • For example, UT Knoxville Volunteer Scholarship https://onestop.utk.edu/scholarships/volunteer/ has a specific GPA and minimum ACT requirement. If UT Knoxville is on your list, are you on target to be eligible for this scholarship?
      • Higher ACT scores could mean a bigger scholarship. Check college scholarship pages. How likely are you to improve your score by the needed amount?
    • How many times have you already taken the test?
      • Just taking the test over and over is pointless if you don’t change anything between attempts. How are you preparing for the ACT?
    • Are your score expectations realistic?
      • Going up 3-4 points on the ACT is a realistic goal with effort, especially from your first to second time taking the test. The higher your starting score is, the harder it is to get your score up with future retakes. Score improvements don’t come without effort.
    • How do you move forward?
      • After considering the questions above, if you’ve come to the conclusion you don’t want or need to retake the ACT, congratulations. Focus on completing applications, and on making a strong finish in your high school career.
      • If you do want to retake the ACT, pick a test date that fits your schedule and start using prep tools listed below.



    SAT vs. ACT (adapted from Princeton Review)





    Scored on scale 400-1600

    Scored on a scale of 1-36


    Require more time to understand and answer

    Tend to be more straightforward


    5 reading passages

    4 reading passages


    No science test on SAT

    The science section tests critical thinking skills


    Arithmetic, Alg 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry

    Arithmetic, Alg 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry


    Some math questions don’t allow calculator use

    ALL math questions allow a calculator.

    Essay (Optional)- most students do NOT complete this section.

    Comprehension focused, 50 minutes to complete

    Evaluate/Analyze complex issues, 40 minutes to complete




    Each student who receives an ACT Fee Waiver must meet one or more of the indicators of economic need listed below. If you meet one of more of these, see Ms. King for a fee waiver.

    • Enrolled in a federal free or reduced-price lunch program at school, based on US Department of Agriculture (USDA) income levels (see table). 
    • Enrolled in a program for the economically disadvantaged (for example, a federally funded program such as GEAR UP or Upward Bound). Note: If the student participates in a program, but is not economically disadvantaged, they are not eligible for a fee waiver. 
    • Resides in a foster home, is a ward of the state, or is homeless. 
    • Family receives low-income public assistance or lives in federally subsidized public housing. 
    • Family’s total annual income is at or below USDA levels for free or reduced-price lunches on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website. Visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website (https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/income-eligibility-guidelines) to access the most current income eligibility guidelines.



    FHS does not endorse any particular test-prep resource. This list is not exhaustive.

    Free online test-prep:


    Area resources that charge a fee:


    Online Resources that Charge a Fee:


    ACT website: https://www.act.org/ 

    ACT National Test Dates


    SAT website: https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/sat 

    SAT National Test Dates