Admission Tests: SAT & ACT
Some colleges use scores from admissions tests, also known as college entrance exams, to help evaluate if a student is ready to do college-level work. Some scholarship providers also use test scores when awarding scholarships. The most common college entrance exams are the SAT and ACT.
SAT/ACT Dates & updated COVID information
2020/21 test dates
Due COVID-19 many colleges and universities are going test-optional (you can submit a score if you have one but it is not required) or test-blind (students are not required to submit a score at all). Be sure to research if the school you are applying to requires submitting a score this year.
Click here for more information on test-optional and test-blind schools.
Seniors – at this point we’re not recommending tests for anyone who doesn’t expressly need them. Due to the increased health risk in gathering to take the test and the decrease in colleges requiring a test, do not fret if you can’t complete the SAT or ACT before applying to college. Confirm with the updated test policy at each college you are applying to.
***SCHOLARSHIPS: The biggest unknown at this point is how colleges and private scholarships will move forward with deciding merit-based scholarship awards. With this unknown, you may consider taking a test later this year (if it is safe to do so) after completing your application for admission. You usually can submit a test score later to be considered for scholarships – be sure to check with your college. Due to the changes in the admission process, I am hopeful there will also be changes in the scholarship process. This of course is an evolving situation as test centers open/close and colleges announce their new scholarship procedures. I will update information as it becomes available.
Juniors – PHS will not be offering the PSAT this year. I recommend you continue to prepare for the exam on your own by using the Khan Academy online. Hopefully by Spring 2021 the testing will be available again.
All PHS sophomores take the PSAT in the fall. It is optional for juniors to take it again following their sophomore year. ASPIRE highly recommends students take the PSAT again their junior year.
– This test is designed for juniors and covers material that most students didn’t know as a sophomore.
– Scholarship Opportunities: Juniors who take the PSAT may be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program and other programs that use PSAT scores.
– Students considering going to a 4-year school should take the PSAT’s as a junior so they are more prepared for the SATs the spring of their junior year. The PSAT and the SAT have the same format and evaluate the same skills.
– Research shows that students who take the PSAT in 10th and 11th grades score, on average, 189 points higher on the SAT than students who do not.
– The PSAT consists of five sections: two verbal, two math, and one writing skills, and take a total time of two hours and ten minutes.
Prepare for the PSAT with these College Board practice tests.
– We suggest that students take the SAT for the first time during the spring of their junior year and a second time during the fall of their senior year (if needed).
– Required for admission by the majority of 4-year U.S. colleges. Not required for community college admission.
– Scores are often used to award scholarships! If you are planning to start out at a community college, ASPIRE still recommends that you take the SAT test to help with scholarship applications.
– New SAT score is out of 1600 (800 Math, 800 for Evidence-based Reading and Writing) – and there is no longer a point penalty for a wrong answer.
– Optional essay will be scored separately – check with your college’s admission guidelines to see if you need an essay score to report.
– The SAT includes: 1 Evidence-based Reading and Writing Test (65 minute reading section, 35 minute Language and Writing section), 1 Math Test (55 minute section with calculator, 25 minute section without calculator), 1 Essay Test (optional – sign up for this when registering, 50 minutes)
– Register online at sat.collegeboard.org
– Use this FREE Kahn Academy SAT Practice Program – If you took the PSAT be sure to link your results from College Board to your Kahn Academy account for a personalized study guide. If you did not take the PSAT, be sure to take the Kahn Academy quiz for a personalized study guide.
– Daily Practice App – Make practice part of your routine — any place, any time. Answer a question a day on the Daily Practice for the New SAT app and get immediate feedback.
– Full-length Practice Tests – Take up to four SATs to simulate the test day experience. After you’ve finished, score your test using your phone and the free mobile app, Daily Practice for the New SAT, or print the resources below to score by hand.
– Sample Questions – Here you can find several sample questions for each section of the new SAT. These feature questions from both math sections (calculator and no calculator), reading, and writing and language, as well as sample essay questions.
– Kaplan New SAT Question of the Day
– Many selective colleges require one to three SAT II subject tests
– Each one-hour subject test is multiple choice, except writing, which includes one 20-minute essay
– We suggest that students take the ACT for the first time during the spring of their junior year and a second time during the fall of their senior year (if needed).
– Virtually all 4-year U.S. colleges accept the ACT as an alternative to the SAT
– Four sections: English, math, reading, and science reasoning
– Total time of approximately three hours
– Register online at www.actstudent.org
Differences between the ACT and SAT.
If you are considering a 4-year school, we suggest taking both the SAT and ACT. Submit your higher score with your admissions application. Compare your SAT and ACT scores with this table. Please note that the table does not suggest that students who score well on the ACT will also score well on the SAT and vice versa. Often a student’s score on one test will be significantly higher.