October 2006 Newsletter
Standardized testing helps admissions counselors compare students from high schools with different levels of competitiveness from across the country and around the world. While a student’s grade point average is one objective criterion, standardized test scores are another.
PSAT: The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is a test taken in October of a student’s junior year as a practice for the SAT and to qualify for the National Merit Scholarships. To receive recognition as a National Merit Commended Scholar, a student must achieve a minimum selection index of 200, which is a total of the critical reading, math and writing skills sections. For recognition as a National Merit Semi-Finalist, the minimum number is calculated each year and varies from state to state depending upon the number of participants and their level of achievement.
SAT: The Scholastic Aptitude Test, (SAT) is a timed exam, comprised of three sections, critical reading, math and writing, and the highest score that can be achieved on each section is 800 points. Since most colleges will consider the highest scores from two or three exams, it is recommended that students study before taking this exam and take it twice. While each situation is different, it is also recommended that the student takes the exam twice in their junior year. More information about SAT’s can be found at www.collegeboard.com.
ACT: The American College Test (ACT) is a combination of four exams that assess a student’s knowledge in the areas of English, math, reading and science reasoning. The composite score, which is an average of the four exams, can total a maximum of 36 points. There is also an optional writing test, which is required by most colleges. Since with this test students have the option of reporting only their highest score, there is a benefit to taking this test multiple times. Most colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT, however, it is usually suggested that students take both exams. More information about ACT’s can be found at www.actstudent.org.
Subject Tests: Subject Tests are one hour exams administered in 20 different academic subjects. These exams are required by most of the highly selective colleges and along with SAT’s or ACT’s, they are used to evaluate applicants for admission. Students can take up to three Subject Tests on a given day, but cannot take SAT’s and Subject Tests on the same day. Students who are taking advanced placement courses should consider taking SAT Subject Tests. The ideal time to take these exams is in May or June while the material for the AP exam is still fresh in the student’s mind. Some colleges require two Subject Tests, while others require three, but it is always wise to check with individual colleges as to their testing requirements. More information about Subject Tests can be found at www.collegeboard.com.
Advanced Placement Exams: Advanced Placement (AP) tests are offered in May at the conclusion of the advanced placement courses. Depending upon the student’s score, and the specific college’s policy, students can earn college credit through these courses. More information about advanced placement exams can be found at www.ets.org.
TOEFL: The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is taken by students whose first language is other than English. Most colleges have a minimum TOEFL score that is required for international students. More information about TOEFL exams can be found at www.ets.org.