College Entrance Exams
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO PLAN FOR
in appropriately challenging courses continues to be THE BEST preparation for
college. Colleges consistently report that strength
of transcript is the most important factor in admission.
WHAT ABOUT STANDARDIZED TESTS?
addition to your transcript, many colleges require a standardized test, or
college entrance exam: the ACT or
SAT. Every US college will accept either
score for admission; they have no preference.
SHOULD STUDENTS PRACTICE FOR THE ACT
Taking a practice test for each gives students the chance to learn how they
would perform on the real
SAT and ACT, and helps them decide which test is better suited to their
WHAT PRACTICE TESTS ARE AVAILABLE AT
The PreACT (ACT practice test) is designed
for 10th graders and is offered to all sophomores each Spring. The PSAT (SAT practice test) is
designed for 11th graders and is offered to all juniors each Fall. Since the PSAT is offered during the school
day, many students opt to take an additional PSAT in 10th grade to
gain early exposure to the exam.
WILL ANYONE SEE STUDENTS' PSAT or Pre-ACT
No. Scores are given only to students and to their
counselor and are not reported anywhere.
WHAT ELSE CAN THE PSAT and Pre-ACT DO
practice tests give valuable feedback on strengths and weaknesses (and can be
strong score-predictors for the real tests), which can help students begin to
focus their prep for the real ACT and/or SAT accordingly. Practice tests also
help build confidence and familiarize students with the different format,
timing, and questions of the actual tests.
WHEN SHOULD STUDENTS TAKE THE ACTUAL ACT
not until Spring of Junior year. Many students take both the ACT and SAT in
spring of 11th grade. Some students have broad differences in their PreACT
and PSAT results, and will take only
the ACT or SAT. Based on PSAT
and PreACT results, your counselor can help decide which real test may be
better suited to each student.
HOW DOES THE PSAT QUALIFY STUDENTS
The 11th grade PSAT is also the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships. The top
1-2% of PSAT test-takers around the country are named National Merit
Semifinalists and will be invited to apply for “Finalist”. The top 3-4% may be
named Commended Scholars, but cannot apply.
WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
As always, please seek the advice of
your counselor before making any decisions regarding testing, test prep, and
college planning. You
may obtain more information at each test’s website: www.collegeboard.org and www.actstudent.org. For National Merit: www.nationalmerit.org