What are College Entrance Exams?

The SAT and ACT are the college entrance exams required by most colleges – some institutions are test optional and do not require these exams as part of the application process. College entrance exams are standardized tests that measure a student’s aptitude or potential for future success. Keep in mind these exams are just ONE part of the admissions process; and depending on the college/university, they may be weighed more or less heavily than other factors such as: GPA, course selection, essay, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, etc.

Which Test Should I Take, and How Many Times Should I Take It?

The best place to start are the testing agency websites: www.collegeboard.org (SAT) and www.actstudent.org (ACT). Most schools will accept either test for application purposes, and so it is important for students to understand these tests and determine which might be a better fit. Here is a guide that provides more detailed information and compares the SAT vs. ACT.

Students are highly encouraged to take either exam more than once. It is common for students to take BOTH exams once and then determine, based on their results, which exam they would like to take one more time. Students are encouraged to take either exam more than once since many students improve their scores when they take it again. Likewise, many colleges “super score” test scores for admissions and scholarship purposes – meaning colleges take the best combination of scores possible from all exams.

How Can I Register and Prepare for These Tests?

Students need to register online for either one of these exams. Students must create a free account with either testing agency and from that account, students can register for exams, check exam scores, and send scores to colleges. There are fees associated with taking the exams and students should see the agency’s website for more detailed information. NOTE: Students who receive lunch/book assistance or are 21st Century Scholars may qualify for a test fee waiver. See Mr. Reber or your guidance counselor for more information.

There are several options to assist students with preparing for the SAT and ACT, and the best option is to always start with the testing agency websites. Both College Board and ACT provide FREE test prep resources for students: Khan Academy (SAT) and ACT Academy (ACT). Also, each year, PHS offers a SAT prep course in the fall (ZAPS).

How Do Colleges Get My Scores?

There are two primary ways that colleges receive test scores: directly from the testing agency or from the official high school transcript. Many colleges will ONLY accept scores received directly from the testing agencies and students should take note of each institutions application requirements.

Scores can be sent directly from the testing agencies in one of two ways. First, when students register for the SAT or ACT, they have an opportunity to send their score report to four colleges for free. Students will have to pay an additional fee if they are sending their scores to more than four colleges. Second, students can login to their SAT or ACT accounts after they have taken the exams and request that their scores be sent to colleges. Students can still send four free score reports to colleges up to nine days after the test – after that there’s a fee for sending scores, unless the student is eligible for a fee waiver.