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College entrance exam basics

Colleges use many criteria to make an admissions decision. Your

high school transcripts, essay and/or personal statement, letters of
recommendation and standardized test scores are considered during
the admissions process. The information colleges gather about you
My to-do list from these sources gives them a full picture of the type of student you
are and how well you will fit with the school’s academic culture.
Research the range of
test scores accepted at
my colleges of choice and Plan to take at least one standardized 2. The reading section includes short and
set my goal accordingly
college entrance exam if you are thinking long reading passages to test reading
Become familiar with of attending a four-year college or comprehension. Information graphics
the exam’s design university. The different exams measure are also included.
(i.e. the SAT questions your knowledge and skill in a variety of
increase in difficulty 3. The writing and language section
subjects. Students who speak English as
each section) includes questions about punctuation,
a second language may be required to
sentence structure and graphic to
submit a score from the Test of English as
Draft a study plan text translations. The SAT is available
a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or take a test
with and without an essay portion.
Gather my study
to show their English proficiency.
Some schools require an SAT essay,
materials: flash cards, Below is a brief description of the so be sure to check with the colleges
books, practice questions, different college entrance exams. and universities you’re interested in
Check with the school you plan to attending.
Assess myself and attend to determine which exam is
required for admission. Effective March 2016, the highest score
take timed practice tests
possible on the SAT is 2400 (800 per
Think positively! The SAT Reasoning Test section). Incorrect answers do not count
against you. You may take the SAT more
The SAT includes three sections: than once to try to improve your test
mathematics, reading and writing and scores.
language. The questions are geared
towards measuring your conceptual Some schools require prospective
thinking (how you think) rather than students to take one or more SAT subject
how well you memorize facts (what you tests for admission. SAT subject tests are
know). college admissions exams on subjects
that you choose to best showcase your
1. The mathematics section includes strengths and interests.
questions on Heart of Algebra, Problem
Solving and Data Analysis and Passport
to Advanced Math I.
(Continues on back)
The ACT Additional information
The ACT is a multiple-choice test. The ·· Fee waivers—There are fees associated
questions on the ACT measure how much with all of these college entrance exams.
you have learned in your high school If you and your family will have difficulty
English, mathematics, reading and paying the fees, talk to your school
science courses. The ACT also includes counselor about fee waivers. The fee
an optional writing test. waivers would allow you to take the
SAT and ACT for free or the TOEFL at a
ACT test scores are based on the number discounted rate.
of correct answers. The advantage of
this scoring method is that you are not ·· Test-optional colleges and
penalized for guessing. The average of universities—Many colleges and
the four test area scores is used to give a universities have moved to a test-
composite score ranging from 1–36. You optional admissions policy for some
may take the ACT more than once to try or all applicants. Typically, applicants
to improve your test scores. who do not submit SAT or ACT scores
must have very strong grades, a healthy
Should I take the SAT, the dose of extracurricular activities and a
very impressive essay to be competitive
ACT or both? among the applicant pool. For a list of
The SAT and ACT are very different tests, these colleges, go to
each with its own way of measuring your ·· Online resources—Visit these websites
skills. Some students find that they score for other resources and practice tests:
much higher on one or the other; some
students score about the same on each. The SAT Reasoning Test and SAT
Most colleges and universities accept Subject Tests:
test scores from either the SAT or the The ACT:
ACT. Check with the schools where you
are applying to determine if there is an TOEFL:
exam preference. Taking both tests can
Number 2:
be beneficial because most colleges only
use your highest standardized test score March 2 Success:
when deciding on admission. Practice
tests are also available for studying
purposes or to use as a guide. Use the Khan Academy’s SAT Test Prep:
scores you earned on the practice tests
to determine which one will show the ACT Online Prep:
college your best academic ability.
Need more information?
The Test of English as a
The College Place is here to help
Foreign Language (TOEFL) you with free college-planning
If you speak English as a second resources and personal advice. Visit our
language, some colleges may require website at
you to take the TOEFL as part of the
admissions process. This test measures
how well you read, listen, speak and write
in English. Check with the admissions
office of your prospective colleges for
more information.