Most colleges require high school students to take one of two standardized tests for admittance. Students choose between the ACT and the SAT Reasoning test.
Both tests utilize a multiple-choice format, but have a different purpose and content. The ACT is administered 6 times a year, and is a content-based test that covers English, math, reading, and science. There is an optional writing section that we encourage all students to select.
The SAT Reasoning test is administered 7 times a year, and is designed to test students' critical reasoning skills. There are three sections that cover critical reading, math, and creative writing. Most high school students take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (or PSAT) in the 10th and 11th grade to prepare for the SAT, and qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program.
Students considering which test to take should consult with teachers, the college counselor, and your parents to discuss your testing taking proficiency, preferred style, high school course work, academic strengths, and finally your success with the PSAT. These two tests are accepted by the overwhelming majority of colleges in the country with very few exceptions.
Students should visit the respective websites at www.actstudent.org
to gather more information about the tests, and take a practice exam before deciding which test is the best choice for college.
In addition to these tests, students applying to the most competitive colleges and universities should be aware of the SAT Subject tests. These tests cover the five core subjects: 1) Literature; 2) Math (upper and lower level); 3) Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics); 4) Social Studies (US and World History); and 5) Foreign Language (Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin and Spanish).
The subject test utilizes a multiple-choice format and normally takes one hour to complete. Most schools require 2 tests, however there are some institutions that ask for 3 subject tests. If there are questions regarding which test to take, contact the admissions office at the college.
The final critical step for testing is preparation. Students should deliberate and consult with parents and advisors to determine the best method of preparing for success with a standardized test. There are a variety of means to choose from, such as hiring a private tutor, enrolling in a test preparation course, or preparing alone using a study guide or on-line course. The best choice will vary from student to student, and depend on individual test taking skills and learning style.
Burke does not endorse any particular tutor or company, however there is a listing of resource links for your information on the right side panel of this page. The key is to register early for a test and prepare for success!
for an ACT and SAT score comparison chart.