College Admission Testing

Many colleges require aptitude and/or achievement test scores as part of their admissions process. They use these scores as one measure of a student’s academic potential. The student’s school record is considered the most accurate single predictor of readiness to do college level work, but the best means of predicting academic success in the first year of college is the combination of SAT scores, ACT scores, achievement test scores, and his/her high school grades.

  • P.S.A.T. (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test): The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Tests are administered to all juniors in the fall. This test is considered a “junior version” or practice version of the SAT (College Boards).

  • SAT I (Scholastic Aptitude Test): The SAT I is a multiple-choice examination that measures writing, verbal, and mathematical reasoning abilities. The verbal questions measure the student’s ability to understand what he/she reads and the extent of his/her vocabulary. The mathematical questions measure quantitative abilities closely relating to college work. The SAT I is similar to the PSAT/NMSQT which is available to juniors in the fall of the year and recommended as a practice test for the SAT I.

  • ACT (American College Test): The ACT is a multiple-choice examination measuring achievement in four subject areas: English usage, mathematics usage, social studies reading, and natural science reading. Science in the ACT is closely related to material covered during high school, many feel very comfortable taking this test.

  • SAT II (formerly called Achievement Tests): Some colleges (especially the private-competitive schools) require specific achievement tests for admission while others use them for placement. Each test is a one-hour multiple-choice test made up of questions that measure knowledge in subject area and the ability to apply that knowledge. The student may take one, two, or three achievement tests on any test date. However, he/she cannot take both the SAT I and SAT II tests on the same date.

To know which test you should take; it is advisable to check the catalogs of the schools of interest. If the student is unsure, it is advisable to take both the SAT and ACT tests and to take them as often as possible. It is often the highest score obtained, which helps colleges determine the academic potential of an applicant.