College entrance exams are designed to measure a student’s ability to do college level work and are required by most four year colleges and some two year colleges. By reviewing a standardized set of test scores for every student applying to a college, the admissions personnel are able to compare students from different states, schools and academic backgrounds.
The major standardized tests students take for college entrance are the PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests and ACT. Colleges across the country use results of these tests to determine a student’s college readiness and likelihood for academic success. There is much misinformation out there surrounding these tests. People talk about the “magic number” to get into the school of their dreams. No one should consider their college opportunities are over because of a below average college entrance exam score. However, they are one important factor in college admissions. Students should take them seriously, spend time preparing for them and do their best.
Which Test Should I Take?
Although both SATs and ACTs have the same goal they are very different from one another. It’s not a bad idea to take both. Some students score higher on one test than the other. Since most colleges will accept scores from either test, taking both may increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice. Once you receive your test scores your school counselor can help you compare the results and decide which scores to submit to the colleges. If you choose to send your scores to colleges at the time of registration, most colleges will look at all scores and consider the highest ones when making an admissions decision. Some colleges do prefer or require one test or the other, so once you know where you will be applying you should check the admissions requirements of those schools to be sure you’ve taken the proper test. Some colleges are also “score optional”, in which case you may opt to not send scores. Also note that some colleges use the test results to decide on placement in freshman English and/or Math courses.
It is recommended that students take an SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year. This allows for additional testing opportunities in the fall of their senior year if students are trying to improve their scores.
Online registration is the most efficient way to register and can be found under Related Links to the right . You will need a digital photo, credit card (to pay for the test) and an e-mail address (for confirmation). When you register you will get an immediate confirmation, your registration number and the test center assignment. You will receive an admission ticket which you will need to bring with you along with photo ID on the day of the test. If your student is on free or reduced lunch, have them see their school counselor for a fee waiver that will allow them to take an SAT and an ACT. This waiver will allow them to take two free tests for the SAT and the ACT.
When registering for the SAT and ACT, use CCHS code 331-375. By using this code, you ensure that the high school will receive a copy of the results for your cumulative folder. It is your responsibility to direct the testing organizations to send your official test scores to the colleges you are interested in applying to.
Please remember to pick FREE test scores to be sent to your top four schools (even if you are unsure). After the "window of opportunity" closes, you will have to pay $12/school to submit your scores. Every time you take a new test, you can change the schools as needed during that "window", and they will send all test date scores. Both SAT and ACT test sites have this option.
Preparing for the Exam
It is best to familiarize yourself with the directions and types of questions before test day. Free and low cost practice exams are available electronically and in print. Practice with timing can also be beneficial so you learn how to pace yourself for these exams, so try setting a timer when you do practice tests.