High school students who are considering college may want to participate in a program of standardized testing. Either the SAT or ACT are accepted by colleges and universities as a factor for consideration in the admissions process. There are more than 1,800 colleges that are test-optional and do not require standardized tests.
College entrance tests are designed to measure a student’s ability to do college level work. By having a standardized set of test scores for an applicant, the admissions professionals are able to compare students from different states, schools, and academic backgrounds.
Admission decisions are based on many factors including the high school transcript, teacher and counselor recommendations, personal statement, extracurricular activities and test scores. At each college, the weight of these factors varies, but the high school record is almost always the most important single factor for consideration for admission.
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
The PSAT is taken in October of the Junior year. The PSAT offers students the opportunity to participate in a standardized testing situation that is less stressful for the student; PSAT scores are not reported to colleges and universities. PSAT scores are used as qualifiers for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The test includes sections in Reading, Writing & Language, and Math.
The SAT is a test used by some colleges for entrance purposes. It is a test with two parts: Evidenced-Based Reading, Writing and Math. A score ranging from 200 to 800 is reported for each of the two parts, making 1,600 a perfect score. The tests are given on Saturday mornings at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in October, November, May and June. The cost is approximately $55. Test preparation materials are available in the high school counseling office. Registration deadlines are approximately five weeks prior to each test administration. Students may register on the College Board Website.
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The ACT is accepted for entrance and/or placement purposes by colleges and universities. It consists of a series of four tests in the following areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. There is an optional Writing Test which measures the student’s ability to plan and write a short essay; most colleges don’t require it but be aware of the requirements for the schools on your list.
The tests are designed to provide an overall estimate of a student’s ability to succeed academically at the college level.
Tests are administered on Saturday mornings in September, October, December, February, April and June at some neighboring schools. The cost is $63, with an additional $25 for the Writing Test. Deadlines for registration are approximately 5 weeks prior to the test, and students may register online at the ACT website.
TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language
For the student whose primary language is not English, the TOEFL offers a way to be competitive in the college application process without being penalized for a deficiency of English vocabulary.
For more specific information about standardized testing, students are encouraged to talk with their counselor.