High School Testing for College
Preparatory College Exams
PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)
The PSAT is a practice test generally taken by sophomores or juniors in high school. This practice test is designed to get students ready for the ACT and SAT examinations the following year.
The PSAT scores do not affect your transcript or college admission chances. However, the PSAT is an important preparatory step to not only get you ready for taking a standardized test, but this test also makes you a candidate for a National Merit Scholarship if you get a good score!
How to Register: The only way to register for the PSAT is through the high school administering the test. Information about registering for the PSAT will be available through either the guidance counselor or the college counseling office. However, not all schools offer the PSAT but you can find a local school that does by using the College Board’s PSAT High School Search Tool.
Advanced Placement (AP) Program
AP Exams are standardized exams designed to measure how well you’ve mastered the content and skills of a specific AP course. Exams are generally taken after the completion of such a course, not all schools offer AP courses and students can opt to take the test without having taken the course. AP exams are scored from 1-5 and scores are based on a student’s performance relative to all other students who have taken that particular exam. Scoring a 4 or 5 will count as college credit at many colleges and universities.
How to Register? Each school that offers AP courses will have a staff member in charge of handling AP test registration who liaises with the College Board on behalf of the school. This person is generally a guidance counselor. Students will need to pay a $95 registration fee for each AP exam. Questions regarding fee waivers should be addressed to the AP Coordinator or AP Services. There is no online registration for AP exams.
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Update for 2020-21: Due to this year’s unusual circumstances, the unused/canceled exam fee won’t be applied this year. Register for your exams by the deadline indicated by your school—this is the best way to keep your options open because if your situation changes and you ultimately decide to not take your exams in 2021, your school will not be charged for those exams. However, the late order fee does still apply this year if you decide after the ordering deadline that you want to take an exam.
College Entrance Exams
SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)
The SAT is one of the most commonly required college entrance exams. Chances are the majority of the colleges and universities you’re looking to apply to will want to see your score from the SAT. This test has three sections: Reading, Writing and Language; Math; and an optional essay section. Each section is scored from 200-800, meaning students can score anywhere from 400-1600 on the whole test (the optional essay is scored separately).
How to Register: SATs are scheduled at many schools a few times throughout the year. Registration is facilitated through the College Board, meaning students can register for the test either on the College Board Website or by mail.
Additional information: There is a $52 registration fee which must be paid by credit card for online registration or by check for registration by mail. The cost of taking the SAT plus the essay section is $68, and an additional $30 must be paid for late registration (typically the deadline for late registration is two to three weeks before the test date). For further information on fees for additional scores services, click the following button link:
SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are standardized tests in particular subject areas. Five such tests are offered in English, History, Mathematics, Science, and Languages. The subject tests are not as commonly required as the SAT itself, but some schools will require students submit scores from these tests in one or more subjects. The tests are multiple-choice and taken in a one-hour session.
How to register: Go to the College Board Website to make sure of specific dates. Students can take up to three Subject Tests on each test day. To register online follow button link:
ACT (American College Test)
The ACT is a standardized aptitude test similar in content and importance to the SAT. The ACT is multiple choice and has sections in English, Math, Reading, and Science. Like the SAT, there is an optional Writing section. Check to see if the colleges and universities on your list require the writing section as well – as a majority of universities will require it.
Each section is scored on from 1-36, and the final score is generated as the average of all four subject areas. Students who opt to take the Writing Test will receive a Subject-Level Wring Score and an ELA score, which is the average of the scores received from English, reading, and writing)
How to Register: As with the SAT, students can register online or by mail. To register online, go to the ACT website and create an ACT Account. The registration fee for the ACT is $55.00 for the test without the writing test and $70.00 with the writing test.