A Standardized Testing Primer

There is no denying standardized testing is an important part of the college application process. However important, though, your scores are evaluated along with your grades, rigor of curriculum, essays, interviews and letters of recommendation. We hope the following will help you cope with your testing options:

Juniors, with ACTs, SATs and SAT IIs to choose from, standardized testing can be overwhelming. If you use this information to get organized and formulate your own personal testing plan, you may feel a bit more at ease.

  • If you’ve taken the PSAT, you score offers valuable feedback. If you haven’t yet take the test, you still have time. This year it’s given on October 11th during the school day. Once you have your test results back, review and identify the sections you need to work on.
  • Take an online ACT and SAT practice test and compare your scores. Talk to your guidance counselor, as well as your parents, to determine which test is best for you to plan to take.
  • Understand each college’s specific test requirements. For example, some schools require the SAT and 2 Subject Tests, some require 3 Subject Tests, others will accept the ACT instead while others require no standardized tests at all.
  •  Hundreds of colleges do not require either exam as a part of their application process and call themselves ‘test optional’.  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 entire school year. Plan ahead for the academic year and choose test dates that you have enough time to prepare for and don’t conflict with any  personal obligations. Register for tests as soon as possible in order to gain a spot at the location of your choice.
  • Find out if you qualify for test fee waivers. Test fee waivers allow you to register for the SAT, SAT Subject Tests and/or the ACT free of charge. Both College Board and ACT make fee waivers available to qualifying students who are unable to pay the test fee. Request an ACT fee waiver from your high school guidance counselor and an SAT fee waivers from your guidance counselor or an authorized community based organization in your area.
  • Keep a master calendar of the tests, test dates and locations that you register for and save your admission ticket in a safe place where you’ll remember it on the morning(s) of the test. Make sure your family is also aware of your testing schedule.
  • FYI, a college may also use your scores to award scholarships, determine placement in college classes, and offer admission to special programs once you’re accepted.

Seniors, Register now for any tests you want to retake. If you’re thinking about applying early decision, check with the admissions office so you’re aware of the last possible test date that they will consider.


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