Recommended Timeline

Freshman Year:

  • Get excellent grades! Focus on doing your best in school.

Sophomore Year:

  • Take the PSAT in October.
  • SAT Subject Tests in May, June, and/or August (for students in honors and/or AP courses)

Junior Year:

  • Take the PSAT in October. Top scores qualify for National Merit Awards.
  • Many juniors take the SAT for the first time in December or March, with the option to retake it in May, June, August, and/or the fall of their senior year.
  • Students who want to start with the ACT usually take it in December or February, with the option to retake it in April, June, July, and/or the fall of their senior year.
  • AP Exams in May.
  • SAT Subject Tests in May, June, and/or August (for students applying to schools that require these)

Senior Year:

  • Take SAT in August, October, November, and/or December, if needed.
  • Take ACT in July, September, October, and/or December, if needed.
  • AP Exams in May.
  • SAT Subject Tests in August, October, November, and/or December, if needed.

The PSAT

2 hours 45 minutes
Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

 

Do colleges see PSAT scores?

No.

Who takes it and when?

Juniors take the PSAT in October. Sophomores take the PSAT in October or the PSAT 10 in the spring. Some schools do not administer the PSAT to sophomores.

Why take it?

Students gain valuable testing experience and are exposed to SAT-like questions and test conditions. Juniors with top scores can qualify for National Merit Awards.

How is it scored?

The PSAT has two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Each section is scored on a scale of 160 – 760 for a combined score scale of 320 – 1520.


 

The SAT

3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the optional Essay)
Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Essay (optional)

 

Who takes it and when?

Most students take the SAT during junior year, the summer before senior year, or the fall of senior year. Some recruitable athletes take the SAT as sophomores.

 

How is it scored?

The SAT gives students two scores: Math (scored 200 to 800) and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (scored 200 to 800). Most colleges superscore the SAT by taking the best score for each section across multiple test dates. Students receive three scores on the optional SAT essay: Reading (2-8), Analysis (2-8), and Writing (2-8).

 

How to register:

Register online at www.collegeboard.org:
1. Set up an account with the College Board. You will use this throughout your high school career.
2. Click “register now” and fill in the necessary information.
3. Select the test date and test location.
4. Check out using a credit card or check/money order to pay the test fee AND order the Question & Answer Service (if available) or the Student Answer Service.

 

What is the Question and Answer Service (QAS)/Student Answer Service (SAS)?

The QAS (October, March, May) provides a complete copy of a student’s test booklet and answer sheet, including the correct answers and type and difficulty of test questions. The SAS (all other test dates) provides question types, their level of difficulty, student answers, the correct answers, and whether student answers were correct, incorrect, or omitted.

 

What is score choice?

The College Board allows you to choose which SAT scores you send to colleges and gives you the option to not send scores from a specific date. You can pick the test dates you want colleges to see, and the scores will be sent. However, some schools will not let you use Score Choice and require that all SAT test scores be sent for their consideration.


 

The ACT

2 hours 55 minutes (plus 40 minutes for the optional essay)
English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing (optional)

 

Who takes it and when?

Most students take the ACT during junior year, the summer before senior year, or the fall of senior year. Some recruitable athletes take the ACT as sophomores.

 

How is it scored?

The ACT gives students four scores, all scored from 1 to 36: one for each section. Students also receive a composite, which is the average of the four scores (rounded to the nearest whole number). Students receive a separate score on the optional ACT essay (2-12). Most colleges count the best composite. A few colleges superscore the ACT.

 

How to register:

Register online at www.act.org:
1. Make an ACT Student account. The student will use this throughout his/her high school career.
2. Click on “register to test” and fill in the necessary information.
3. Select “ACT with writing” and order the Test Information Release service (if available).
4. Select your test date and test location.
5. Check out using a credit card or check/money order.

 

What is the Test Information Release (TIR)?

This service provides the ACT test booklet, a copy of the student’s answers, and the correct answers. It is available for the April, June, and December tests.

 

New Experimental Section:

There is an experimental section for all students taking the ACT with standard time (with or without the essay). This fifth test will not impact the student’s score and will be 20 minutes long.

 

Do students have to submit the number of times they take the test?

No. The ACT does not require students to submit all scores. It is important for students to check individual college websites regarding score choice.


 

The SAT Subject Tests

1 hour

 

What are SAT Subject Tests?

SAT Subject Tests are one-hour exams specific to academic subjects.

 

What are these tests used for?

Some colleges require or recommend the SAT Subject Tests to assess a student’s strengths in specific content areas.

 

Who takes them and when?

High school students in honors or AP courses as well as recruitable athletes take these tests. Up to three subject tests may be taken on one day, but we don’t recommend taking more than two on the same day.

 

How are they scored?

The SAT Subject tests are each scored on a scale of 200 to 800.

 

Which one(s) should students take?

Most students who take a Subject Test have taken the corresponding honors or AP course. Students may purchase the College Board Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests, which contains one sample test per subject. It is also helpful for students to check with their teacher and/or guidance counselor.

 

How to register:

Register online at www.collegeboard.org. Follow the above instructions for the SAT exam. There is no Question and Answer Service nor Student Answer Service for the SAT Subject Tests.

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