Entrance Exams – SAT, ACT…what?
Once you enter the walls of high school you hear the dreaded letters…SAT, ACT, even PSAT and PLAN. You begin to wonder, what are these and how are they such huge factors in my future? The following section will define these tests and provide you with information about each one.
When learning about these tests, make sure to talk with your school counselor about them and to research colleges you are interested in. Many colleges require different entrance exams, and it is important to know what these are before applying.
SAT: This test assesses your critical reading, math, and writing skills. This measurement helps colleges to determine the potential of your academic success at their institution. This test should be taken your junior year.
- The SAT takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes. It begins with an essay, followed by critical reading and math, and concludes with a writing section.
- Critical Reading: measures a student’s ability to identify relationships among parts of a text, cause and effect, rhetorical devices, and comparative arguments. Reading passages are taken from different subject areas and questions about these passages assess a variety of reading skills.
- Math: measures a student’s ability to grasp mathematical concepts and reasoning skills. Students are asked to apply concepts they have learned over the past three years of school and use real-world applications to solve unfamiliar problems.
- Writing: measures a student’s ability to develop and express ideas effectively. The essay measures skill in developing and expressing a point of view on an issue. The multiple choice section assesses the ability to use and understand language.
- The test is given seven times in a year to juniors and seniors in high school. Juniors will take the test in the spring and seniors in the fall if they feel their scores can be raised.
- There are many practice materials and classes available to those students wanting to enhance their scores.
- You can register and pay the fee for this test at collegeboard.com. There are fee waivers available if needed (see you counselor for information and qualifications).
- Each section of the SAT is about one hour with multiple choice questions. It covers subjects, English Literature, U.S. and World History, Math, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics as well as, some languages are included in the reading portion.
PSAT: This test is given once a year to juniors in the fall (October). It provides practice for the SAT and also determines possible qualifications for merit scholarships. It also provides college and career planning tools.
- Results from the PSAT can provide you with tools and information to prepare for the SAT (many resources can be found on www.collegeboard.com).
- This test is used for personal use and high school only. It is not put on transcripts or sent to colleges (if for some reason colleges do request these scores, parents must write a request to the high school).
- This test has a smaller fee with an option for fee waivers.
- This test will last about two and a half hours.
ACT: This test assesses general education of high school students and their potential ability to complete college work.
- This test covers math, English, reading, and science. There is also an optional writing test which measures skills in planning.
- The ACT is taken in the spring of your junior year and fall of your senior year
Helpful Resources: www.collegeboard.com and www.act.org/aop/