Preparing for Standardized College Entrance Exams
About the PSAT/NMSQT
The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.
- To get more information go to : http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/about.html
About the SAT
The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college. These exams provide a path to opportunities, financial support and scholarships, in a way that's fair to all students. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests keep pace with what colleges are looking for today, measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century.
When to Take the SAT
Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school. At least half of all students take the SAT twice — in the spring as a junior and in the fall as a senior. Most students improve their score the second time they take the SAT.
About the ACT
The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing). Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (plus 30 minutes if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing).
The ACT is administered on six test dates within the United States, U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada—September, October, December, February, April, and June. In other locations, the ACT is administered on all of the above dates except September, and the ACT Plus Writing is not available on the February test date.
When to Take the ACT pick a test date that is at least two months ahead of the application deadlines of all the colleges and scholarship agencies you might want to apply to. Scores for the ACT (No Writing) are normally reported within 3–8 weeks after the test date. If you take the ACT Plus Writing, scores will be reported only after all of your scores are available, including Writing, normally within 5–8 weeks after the test date.
Advantages to testing in your junior year:
- You've probably completed the coursework corresponding to the test material.
- You'll have your test scores and other information in time to help you plan your senior year. (For example, you may decide to take an additional class in an area in which your test score was low.)
- Colleges will know of your interests and have your scores in time to contact you during the summer before your senior year, when many of them are sending information about admissions, course placement, scholarships, and special programs to prospective students.
- You'll have information about yourself and the schools you're considering prior to your campus visits, making your visits more focused.
- You'll have the opportunity to retest if you feel your scores don't accurately reflect your abilities in the areas tested.