Sunday, May 31, 2009


Many of the colleges you apply to will require that you submit scores from either the SAT I (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or the ACT (American College Testing Program). CSUs and Community Colleges do not require you to take these tests. Some may also ask for SAT II (Scholastic Achievement Test) subject tests (UCs require at least two). There is large number of subjects available such as World History, Literature, Spanish, German, Math, Physics, etc. These are usually optional, but can sometimes take the place of college placement tests further down the line.

The SAT is a roughly 3 hour and 40 minute test with three sections: writing, critical reading, and math. There is a short essay and several series of multiple choice questions. Each section is scored on a scale from 200-800, so that the highest possible overall score would be 2400. I recommend taking the test early on so that you may retake it if you’re not satisfied with your score. However, most people advise against taking the test more than 2 or 3 times as your score likely will not improve past that point. There are piles of preparatory books and online resources available. Even if you don’t plan to study for the test it is extremely helpful to familiarize yourself with the test format and some test-taking strategies. I recommend borrowing an SAT book from the library or Tom Pepper’s office to look over a practice test or two. The College Board website is also a good resource for SAT information.

Your other option is to take the ACT. The ACT is four-part multiple choice test, comprised of English, Math, Reading, and Science sections. There is also an optional writing section that most colleges prefer or require. The ACT scores each section from 1 (lowest) to 36 (highest) and your overall score is the average of these four (or five with writing) scores. There are also plenty of test-prep books available for the ACT, as well as online resources. Here is the ACT website with more information.

Many people take both the SAT and ACT and see which one they score better on. It varies from person to person which is 'easier.'

Click here for a schedule of ACT test dates.

Click here for a schedule of SAT test dates.

Also: If English is your second language, you may take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). For information about this try:

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