Wrestling With Standardized Testing

images-1Juniors, are you stressed out about upcoming ACTs, SATs and SAT IIs? While standardized testing is an important part of the college application process, don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, use this information to map out a plan.

Start by reviewing  your PSAT score.  Identify the sections you’d like to improve your score on.

SAT or ACT?  Take an online ACT and SAT practice test and compare your scores to determine which test is best for you. Talk to your guidance counselor, as well as your parents, for input on which test to take.

Search through  school websites to figure out their specific testing requirements. For example, some schools require the SAT and 2 Subject Tests, some require 3 Subject Tests, while others require none.

Test optional schools offer a different route. Hundreds of colleges do not require either exam as a part of their application process. FairTest, The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, provides a complete list of 4 year SAT/ACT test optional universities.

Look at the ACT and College Board test dates and registration deadlines for the school year and choose test dates that do not conflict with any of your own personal obligations. Clear the test dates you are considering with the family calendar as well. Sign-up for tests as soon as possible to ensure your spot at the location of your choice.

Seniors, if you’re considering retaking a test, register now. If applying early decision, check with the admissions office to determine the last possible test date that will be considered.

It’s a good idea to keep a master calendar of the tests, test dates and locations that you register for. Make sure your family is also aware of your testing schedule.

To get the best possible scores you should develop your own test taking strategy. Are you planning to prepare on your own, in a group or with a tutor? It’s so important to learn how to pace yourself, manage your timing and understand how the test is scored. Try to take as many practice tests as possible. The best way to prepare is to become familiar with the tests you’ll be taking to increase your comfort level and confidence when test day arrives. Try to take as many practice tests as possible.

There are many free tests available through the resources listed below:


  • Take an official SAT practice test. College Board has both online and printed versions available.
  • College Board offers free sample practice questions in Math, Reading and Writing for the SAT as well as questions for SAT Subject Tests.
  • Sign up for The Official SAT Question of the Day and build your familiarity with the exam daily.
  • Test prep companies, including Kaplan, The Princeton Review and Peterson’s offer free practice tests, both online and at their test centers. You’ll be required to register and provide your contact information to have access to the tests.
  • McGraw Hill offers an interactive online SAT test prep center with practice tests, videos and other helpful resources.



  • Success on an SAT II demonstrates your proficiency in a specific subject.  Think about the subjects you excel in and ask for your teacher’s for input. Time the exam to match up with the timing of other exams for that subject such as your final exam or AP exam.
  • Plan your test prep.  Take as many practice exams as possible using prep books and go through the online practice questions as well.
  • Understand how the SAT subject tests are scored to maximize your results; you earn one point for each correct answer and lose a fraction of a point for each incorrect answer.
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