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College Entrance Exams

  • PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) - a short form of the SAT Reasoning Exam. The PSAT/NMSQT offers students the opportunity to gain experience taking standardized college admissions exams. For eleventh graders taking the PSAT/NMSQT, the exam can qualify students for National Merit Scholarship Funds.
  • SAT - a three-hour exam structured in three parts: Critical reading, Math and Writing. Each section will be scored on a scale from 200-800. Most universities require the SAT Reasoning Test for admission.
  • SAT Subject Tests - exams are offered in a variety of subjects and are designed to measure specific accomplishments and knowledge in a single field. Most of the exams are multiple-choice. Each SAT Subject Tests are scored on a scale of 200 - 800. Currently, the University of California and some private universities require two SAT Subject Tests (Two exams of your choice: Languages, sciences, history, etc. If math is chosen, only Math level 2 will be accepted by the UC system).
  • ACT (American College Testing Program) - the exam is divided into four parts: English usage, Mathematics usage, Social Science Reading, and Natural Sciences Reading. There are four scores for the ACT - one for each of the individual exams. The composite score is the score most often used for admission purposes by universities and colleges. The ACT composite score is scored on a scale of 1 - 36. The ACT exam can be used for admissions into most universities and colleges. Students must choose the writing section in order to qualify for UC admissions if taking this exam.
  • AP Exams (Advanced Placement) - AP exams are offered in a variety of subjects. The tests are approximately three hours and combine written, objective, and aural selections. The AP examinations are used as measures of college achievement, and are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. A minimum score of 3 is required to be granted college credit.

There are tools and resources to help prepare for College Admissions tests.  Many are free or affordable. Khan Academy offers online practice for both tests. A student should take several practice tests to get a sense of how the test is set up, as well as the timing of the different sections.  Students should review the results of every test in addition to learning their score, which will help indicate what skills to work on. Link your college board account to the Khan Academy in order to start practicing!