SAT Reasoning Test
The SAT Reasoning Test is primarily a multiple-choice test containing verbal and math sections. It is designed to measure your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Colleges and universities use the test as a “standard” measure when evaluating your credentials during the admissions process.
In general, taking the test more than three times is not necessary. In fact, it may be to your advantage to take it as few times as possible. We suggest you come and talk it out with your college counselor.
- Students should wait to take the SAT Reasoning Test until the SPRING semester of their JUNIOR year. There are three SAT testing dates in the spring (January, May, and June) and one ACT testing date in the spring (April).
- Students should NOT take the test earlier for practice purposes!
Students can register for the SAT and the SAT Subject Test at www.sat.collegeboard.org. If you need more detailed instructions, please come to the College Counseling Office and talk with your college counselor.
SAT Subject Tests
SAT Subject Tests, formerly called the SAT II tests (and in your parents’ day were called Achievement Tests), are one-hour, primarily multiple-choice tests designed to measure knowledge in a particular subject and the application of that knowledge. No student should ever re-take a subject test! Students should only be taking the SAT and Subject Tests in an official capacity when they are ready and confident that they will score the highest score in a particular sitting!
- Many colleges and universities require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests for admission purposes. Ideally, these should be completed by November of a student’s senior year.
- If a student is proficient in another language besides English, they may want to consider taking a language with listening Subject Test (i.e. Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Japanese). In this specific case, the College Counseling Office would be ok with a student taking this exam (and only this exam) before the spring semester of their junior year.
- Please note: The language Subject Tests are offered at each testing date; however, the language with listening Subject Tests are ONLY offered in NOVEMBER.
- To help students decide which tests to take, they should:
1. Choose their strongest academic area.
2. Consult with their teachers for their advice. This is very important.
There are twenty subject areas. These scores are used as part of the admissions process and/or for placement after admission is offered. To learn more about the SAT Subject Tests, we recommend that you go to the College Board website: http://sat.collegeboard.com/about-tests/sat-subject-tests. This website offers detailed explanations of each subject test, opportunities to take mini-practice tests, free downloadable publications and information about test preparation.
PLEASE NOTE: Requirements about SAT Subject Tests, including “how many” and “which” test should be taken, differ from institution to institution. You must refer to the admission requirements of each school to which you will apply in order to determine specific testing requirements and how the results will be used. Check the school’s website to find out what is required and don’t go by what is listed on collegeboard.com or collegeprowler.com. These are not necessarily reliable sites.
The ACT combines elements of aptitude and achievement tests in one single instrument. Like the SAT, the ACT helps predict academic achievement in college and serves as a standard measure by which students from diverse educational backgrounds can be compared.
- Juniors may wish to consider taking the ACT as an ALTERNATIVE test used for U.S. college admissions. We recommend that students take the ACT for the first time in April of their JUNIOR year. Students will also be able to take the test in October or December of their senior year.
The ACT is a content-based multiple-choice test with five sections:
- Reading Comprehension
- Mathematics Reasoning
- Science Reasoning
ACT makes the Writing section optional; however, most selective colleges and universities will require the Writing section. The College Counseling Office recommends all students taking the ACT test also take the optional Writing section.
Students receive a score for each section as well as a composite score ranging from 1 to 36. The ACT focuses more on grammar, punctuation and general comprehension than the SAT. If you have taken the ACT test more than once, ACT maintains a separate record for each test date. Unlike the SAT, they will release only the record(s) from the test date(s) you designate. However, you may not select test sub-scores from different test dates to construct a new composite score; you must designate an entire test date record as it stands. ACT does not create new records by averaging scores from different test dates.
The ACT offers online registration at www.act.org. The ACT is required or preferred by certain colleges in the Midwest and the South and by the military academies and ROTC programs. Most schools now accept the ACT in place of the SAT Reasoning Test and/or the SAT Subject Tests. Some colleges now combine ACT sub-scores from multiple administrations to create a highest possible composite or super-score for the ACT. Here are some of the colleges that follow this practice:
- Amherst College
- Babson College
- University of Colorado
- Elon University
- George Washington University
- University of Illinois
- University of Indiana
- Lawrence University
- University of Miami
- Northeastern University
- Pepperdine University
- University of Puget Sound
- Stanford University
- Washington & Lee University
- Washington University in St. Louis
This is not a widespread practice, and we will continue to monitor this new trend with the ACT.
The purpose of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is to evaluate the English proficiency of people whose first language is not English. The test was initially developed to measure English proficiency of international students wishing to study at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and this continues to be its primary function. The TOEFL measures proficiency through three sections – listening, structure and reading – to measure an examinee’s ability to understand English as it is spoken, recognize the language that is appropriate for standard written English, and read and understand short passages on academic subjects.
The College Counseling Office recommends students take the TOEFL exam if they score below a 550 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT. In some very specific cases a college or university will require an APIS student to take the TOEFL exam if the Critical Reading score is below 600. If your Critical Reading score falls below 550, consult with your college counselor about the TOEFL exam.
TOEFL offers online registration at www.ets.org/toefl.