The following information is designed to help you become informed in order to improve your chances of getting into the college of your choice.
College Entrance Exams
The ACT and the SAT are the primary tests used for admission to college. In combination with your high school transcript, your scores, on either or both of these tests, will determine in large part your eligibility for college. While colleges take into consideration your high school grades and class rank, they also recognize that these criteria are subjective. The SAT and ACT, however, are standardized and provide colleges with a more accurate assessment of your level of academic knowledge. Colleges can compare your SAT and ACT scores with those of 2 million other students.
So which test should you take? First, you should probably know what each test is for. The ACT is an achievement test designed to measure what you learned while in high school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test that measures your verbal and quantitative reasoning abilities. Some colleges prefer the ACT, others prefer the SAT. If you know which college you want to attend you should find out which test they prefer. If you’re undecided about where you want to go to college, you should consider taking both exams.
Before you take the ACT or the SAT, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself. For the ACT, you should brush up on your knowledge of the content areas covered on the exam. For the SAT, the best preparation is to take the timed Practice SAT (PSAT) test. Once you’ve taken the PSAT you should review your score with a counselor to see how you can improve your performance.
The registration deadline for both the ACT and SAT is about a month prior to each exam. So make sure you schedule your exam in time to get the results back for college admission deadlines.
The ACT covers four subject areas; English, math, reading and science reasoning. The English section of the test consists of 75 reading and writing questions designed to assess punctuation, grammar, and usage, strategy, sentence structure, style, and organization. The ACT Plus also includes a writing test.
The reading section of the ACT is composed of 40-questions designed to measure reading comprehension. Reading passages cover natural sciences, social studies, prose fiction and the humanities.
The science section of the ACT is composed of 40-questions designed to measure problem-solving skills. Topics covered include biology, physics, chemistry and earth sciences.
The ACT takes about four hours to complete. The national average score for the ACT is 21.1 out of a possible 36. The ACT costs $32 and the ACT Plus is $47. Make sure to request that your ACT score is sent to your colleges of choice. You can regsiter online for the ACT or pick up a registration form at your high school or a local college. For more information about the ACT you can call 1-319-337-1270.
There are two versions of the SAT; the SAT Reasoning Test and the SAT Subject Test. The SAT Reasoning Test is used as an entrance exam. The SAT subject tests are equivalent to a placement test.
The SAT measures reading, writing and math skills. The SAT has 10 individual timed sections. The entire test lasts about four hours. The first section of the SAT is a 25-minute essay. The following section includes six 25-minute sections and two 20-minute sections. The sections covers math, critical reading and writing. The SAT also includes a 10-minute multiple-choice writing section toward the end.
Each portion of the test is scored from 200 to 800. Your total score is composed of the writing, reading and math sections. There is a total possible score of 2400 (a perfect score). The average score for the SAT nationwide is about 1500. The SAT costs about $45. Make sure to request that your SAT scores be sent to the colleges of your choice. You can register online for the SAT or pick up a registration form at your high school or at a local college.
Advanced Placement tests
There are 33 college-level coures and exams offered through the Advanced Placement Program. These courses are provided to highly motivated high school and secondary school students. Students who pass these Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams can receive academic course credit for those subjects when they enroll in college. However, not all high schools offer AP courses so you’ll need to check to see if your school offers the Advanced Placement Program.
Each AP exam costs about $90. It may seem expensive but it’s a bargain compared to what the same courses will cost in college. To find out more about the Advanced Placement Program you can call 1-609-771-7300 or 1-888-225-5427.
CLEP stands for College-Level Examination Program. The CLEP exams enable students to “place out” of certain required college courses by providing them course credit based on their existing knowledge of the subject matter. There are 34 CLEP exams, which are usually administered by the specific college where credit is being awarded. Each CLEP exam costs about $75. You can learn more about CLEP by calling 1-800-257-9558.
The College Application Form
Your application is just one of several items that colleges consider when evaluating your eligibility. The other items evaluated include transcripts, grades, class rank and entrance exams.
You can download a college application from each college’s respective website. Alternatively, you can call the university and request that an application be sent to you. Take time to fill out your college application correctly and completely. Remember, your college application form will represent you to college admissions officials. Make sure to review college application deadlines to ensure your application(s) get submitted in time.