January 22, 2018

College Entrance Testing – An Overview

Students who wish to go to college will have to prove that they are academically ready by receiving certain test scores on a college entrance exam.  There are several exams available, but the most commonly used methods of testing are the SAT and the ACT.  College entrance testing can be stressful but early preparation will help!

college entrance testing

It’s really not this bad!

The SAT is an exam written by the CollegeBoard and you can find more information on it HERE.  It contains three sections that are designed to test a student’s critical reading, math and writing skills.  Each section is scored from 200 to 800 – making a perfect score on the SAT 2400.  The test is offered seven times a year and a student may take it as many times as they like (although I wouldn’t recommend taking it all seven times each year).  Most colleges will allow super scoring if the student has taken the test more than once – meaning they will take the highest score from each section and combine them for the student’s best overall score.

In the various sections of the SAT, students will be tested on reading comprehension, sentence completion, grammar usage, math skills to include algebra, geometry and statistics and will be asked to write a 30-minute first-draft essay.  The essay will receive a separate score from 2 to 12 and this score will be incorporated into the student’s overall writing section score.  Register to take this test by going to collegeboard.org

The ACT contains sections which test a student’s knowledge in English, math, reading, science and there is an optional writing section.  Each section will be scored from 1 to 36 and an average (or composite) score will be given.  Therefore, a perfect score on the ACT is 36.  Superscoring is usually also available for this test as well – so taking it more than once is an advantage.  The subject matter tested is similar to that of the SAT but the math goes to the Trigonometry level and there is the additional science section which tests a student’s ability to interpret, analyze and problem solve scientific questions.  As noted, the writing section is optional, but I recommend that if a student is not taking the SAT with its writing section, that you opt in for the ACT writing.  Register to take the ACT by going HERE.

When registering for either test, you will be given a choice of location.  I always recommend that students choose a college campus over a high school campus if that is available.  You typically find a friendlier test-taking environment by avoiding a high school campus where everyone automatically knows each other already, you’re the left-out student and the atmosphere is usually loud.

I’ll be posting more later on preparing for these tests – but I recommend that you start taking them, along with the PSAT, as early as 9th grade to give yourself plenty of opportunity to do well.

~ to your success!


(Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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