Nearly every college or university requires prospective students to submit scores from one (or both) of the most widely recognized standardized tests – the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the ACT (American College Test). Standardized test scores help institutions better understand how a student compares with the other applicants.
The scores from these tests play an important role in a student’s potential for admission to a college or university. Good test scores make a student more attractive to a school which could result in an increase in the funding offered.
For both the SAT and the ACT, an excellent strategy for maximizing your scores is to take each test multiple times. As a general rule, a student’s score will increase with every test taken. A student can usually decide which score will ultimately be submitted with his or her admission application.
ACT™ Assessment – College Admission and Placement Test
The ACT Assessment tests are used and accepted by virtually all colleges and universities in the United States to help determine a student’s eligibility for admission. The questions on the ACT are curriculum based. This means that they are directly related to what the student has learned in his or her high school core courses. The following subjects are covered in the tests:
Colleges and universities not only use ACT scores to determine eligibility for admission but also for placement in applicable freshmen-year courses. It is important to note that many private-sector scholarship sponsors also require ACT test scores.
Students may take the ACT Assessment more than once. Many students take the test as a junior and then again as a senior. Remember that most students improve their scores with each successive test.
ACT™ Assessment – Score Reports
Results of the ACT tests are normally mailed to the student about three weeks after the test date. In order to keep all scores confidential, they are not given out to anyone by fax, telephone, or e-mail.
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SAT® Assessment – General Information
The test generally known as the SAT is actually made of two different tests, each designed with a separate result in mind. The SAT I is a reasoning and aptitude test. The SAT II is made up of a series of subject-based tests to determine a student’s knowledge and/or skill level in that particular subject.
SAT® Reasoning Test
The SAT Reasoning Test is a measure of the critical thinking skills you'll need for academic success in college. The SAT assesses how well you analyze and solve problems - skills you learned in school that you'll need in college. The SAT is typically taken by high school Juniors and Seniors.
Each section (Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing) of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 - 800, with two writing subscores for multiple-choice and the essay.
In addition, there is one 25-minute unscored section, known as the variable or equating section. This unscored section may be either a critical reading, mathematics, or writing multiple-choice section. This unscored section does NOT count toward the final score, but is used to try out new questions for future editions.
The 25-minute essay is always the first section of the SAT, and the 10-minute multiple-choice writing section is always the final section. The remaining six 25-minute sections may appear in any order, as can the two 20-minute sections.
The SAT is administered seven times throughout the year.
SAT® II – Subject Tests
The SAT II Subject Tests are one-hour long, primarily multiple-choice tests that demonstrate a student’s mastery of a particular academic subject. The SAT II scores not only demonstrate achievements and academic abilities but also serve as a predictor of future performance.
Many colleges require one or more of the SAT II subject tests for admission. Colleges may also use SAT II scores to determine a student’s course selection and/or placement for his or her freshman year.
The best strategy for taking a SAT II Subject test is to schedule testing for the date closest to the end of the high school course that corresponds to the particular subject of the test. This will allow the student to take the test while the information is still fresh in his or her mind thus giving the student the chance to achieve the best score possible.
SAT® I and SAT® II Score Reports
Score reports are mailed directly to the student approximately three weeks after the original test date. If you requested that your scores be sent to colleges and/or scholarship sponsors, a report will also be sent to them within three weeks after you have taken the test. If you have not received your test score report within eight weeks from the original test date, contact SAT and check the status of your results.
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Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
The PSAT/NMSQT is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). The PSAT is a preparatory test for the SAT and should be taken in the student’s high school sophomore or junior year.
The PSAT not only serves as a wonderful warm-up for the SAT but it also helps determine your eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship.
High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are eligible for the PSAT, which may be taken more than once. Only juniors (grade 11) qualify for entry in the National Merit® Scholarship Program.
Click here for more information on the PSAT.