Which admission tests do I need to take?

There are a few different standardized college admission tests. The word standardized means that the test measures the same thing in the same way for everyone who takes it. The results of these tests help colleges determine how well prepared you are for college-level work.

Some colleges ask applicants to take a specific test.

The SAT and the ACT

Most four-year colleges require that students submit SAT or ACT scores. Here’s how each of these tests is structured:

  • The SAT has three major sections: math, reading and writing (which includes a written essay).
  • The ACT has four major sections: English, math, reading and science (and an optional essay section).

When to take the test

These facts may help with your planning:

  • Most students take the SAT or ACT for the first time in the spring of junior year.
  • Students who choose to take the SAT or ACT a second time typically do so in the fall of senior year.
  • SAT Subject Tests are best taken directly following relevant courses, while the material from class is still fresh in your mind. But you can take them at any time during high school.

SAT Subject Tests

Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas.

There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, math and science.

Some colleges require or recommend that you take SAT Subject Tests. Even if a college does not recommend Subject Tests, you can use them to enhance your application and demonstrate knowledge you’ve gained outside the classroom.

Some colleges also use Subject Tests to place students into the appropriate courses. If you perform well on the tests, you may fulfill basic requirements or get credit for — and possibly place out of — introductory-level courses.

Collegeboard.org. Copyright © 2015. The College Board. Reproduced with permission.

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