- Review your mid-quarter progress report and share it with your parents. Heed the warnings and follow the suggestions mentioned in the above October suggestions.
- If you are college-bound, decide when you will take the SAT, the ACT (if necessary), the SAT Subject Tests (if necessary), the CLEP (if desired), and the TOEFL (if necessary).
Although the key item in a student’s file is the academic record, or transcript, standardized tests are an important part of the college admissions process. The questions always arises: How do college admissions officers evaluate the rigor of a student’s high school curriculum, assess the differences between teachers of the same course in the school and make fair decisions about applicants despite the wide variety of grading systems in U.S. high schools? In fact, transcripts, which represent a record unique to the high school or its school district, can be perplexing to admissions readers.
Standardized tests have been heralded as one way to introduce some consistency into the admissions process, although the influence of the tests can be difficult to determine. For the vast majority of four-year colleges, though, the tests play an integral part in the admissions process. According to college admissions officers, they are used to verify what the transcript says and help the staff spot overachievers and underachievers. However, a few colleges no longer require them. Others refrain from giving the tests too much weight; they rely, instead, primarily on an analysis of the transcript and other factors. (In addition to admissions, some colleges use standardized tests for course placement of enrolled students, for academic advising and in awarding scholarships and loans.)
At most four-year colleges, then, the tests represent an additional tool in making predictions about an applicant’s likelihood of academic success in the first year of college. (Community colleges may not require admissions tests in general but may require them for certain programs, such as nursing). The tests are useful because they apply the same standard to all applicants who take them, regardless of high school curriculum and grading practices, or personal experiences. Even so, the transcript remains the most significant document in a student’s file because it records his or her academic progress from grades 9 through 12. Examining the transcript along with standardized test results, however, enables admissions officers to forecast with greater accuracy how well the student will perform academically on their campuses.
Scholarship programs, both those awarded by the colleges and those administered by private organizations, frequently use standardized tests as one factor in their selection process. Because certain programs have established minimum requirements, some students take standardized tests more often than their classmates do in an effort to make or surpass the qualifying score.
SAT: Scholastic Aptitude Test
The SAT is the nation’s most widely used admissions test among colleges and universities. It tests students’ knowledge of subjects that are necessary for college success: reading, writing, and mathematics. The SAT assesses the critical thinking skills students need for academic success in college – skills that students learned in high school. The SAT is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. It tells students how well they use the skills and knowledge they have attained in and outside of the classroom—including how they think, solve problems, and communicate. The SAT is an important resource for colleges. It’s also one of the best predictors of how well students will do in college. Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, with two writing subscores for multiple-choice questions and the essay.
Every college-bound junior should register to take the SAT in May or June. Although paper registration forms are sent to all high schools, the registration process can be lengthy and should be completed at www.collegeboard.com. If students are unable to take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests on a Saturday for religious reasons, they are eligible to take the test the following Sunday if they submit their registration with a letter from a cleric explaining the religious obligation.
A limited number of fee waivers are available for students with free or reduced lunch. A student who is eligible for fee waivers can receive the following:
- Two fee-waiver cards for SAT registrations
- Two fee-waiver cards for the SAT Subject Tests registration (for up to three tests per registration)
- Four additional flexible score reports, which can be ordered at no charge at any time after registering for the test(s), including after scores have been reported. (These flexible score reports may be used after a student has taken an SAT or for a previously taken SAT or SAT Subject Test).
- Question and Answer Service (OAS) or the Student Answer Service (SAS), if ordered at registration
- A discount on The Official SAT Online Course, with any online registration using a fee waiver
FREE Online Information for SAT Takers
- MY SAT Online Score Report
- SAT Skills Insight
- View approximate delivery timeframes for score reports to each college / institution chosen by the student, based on the deliver method
- Score Choice: Designed to reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience, this new policy will give students the option to choose the SAT scores by test date and SAT Subject Tests by individual test that they send to colleges (in accordance with an institution’s stated score-use policy). This will allow students to put their best foot forward on test day by giving them more flexibility and control over their scores. Score Choice is optional, and if students choose not to use it, all scores will be sent automatically.
- Customized Score Reports: When ordering score reports, students can select specific test dates to appear on their score reports sent to institutions. Only scores from the selected dates will be reported.
The Lynn English High School College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) code is 221265. Make sure that you take advantage of the free score reports that you can send to a limited number of colleges/universities.
Research shows that students receive little benefit from repeating the SAT multiple times. Students receive, on average, a 40-point increase in their scores across all three sections of the SAT when they take it a second time. Score increases are lower on subsequent retests.
Students can visit the SAT Practice Center at www.collegeboard.com/srp for additional SAT preparation materials.
SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests measure your knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, and your ability to apply that knowledge. The SAT Subject Tests are the only national admissions tests that give you the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of content in specific subjects, such as English, history, mathematics, science, and various foreign languages. Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. These tests give you and colleges a very reliable measure of how prepared you are for college-level work in particular subjects.
Used in combination with other background information (your high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, etc.), they provide a dependable measure of your academic achievement and are a good predictor of future college performance in specific subject areas. The SAT Subject Tests offer you an additional opportunity to show colleges what you know and what you know you can do. SAT Subject Tests fall into five general subject areas: English, History,, Mathematics, Science and Languages. All SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple choice tests. However, some of these tests have unique formats.
Before deciding which tests to take, make a list of the colleges you’re considering. Then review school catalogs, College Search Engines, or College Handbooks to find out whether the schools require scores for admission and, if so, how many tests and in which subjects. Use your list of colleges and their admission requirements to help plan your high school course schedule. You may want to adjust your schedule in light of colleges’ requirements. For example, a college may require a score from a SAT Subject Test in a language for admission, or the college might exempt you from a freshman course requirement if you do well on a language SAT Subject Test. Many colleges that don’t require SAT Subject Test scores will still review them since they can give a fuller picture of your academic background. If you’re not sure which SAT Subject Test to take from a subject area, talk to your teacher or school counselor and visit the Subject Tests Preparation Center.
Most students take SAT Subject Tests toward the end of their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year. Take tests such as World History, Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics as soon as possible after completing the course in the subject, while the material is still fresh in your mind. If you take such courses in your freshman or sophomore year, and you are eligible for fee waivers, you can request a fee waiver to test before your junior year. For foreign language tests, you’ll do better after at least two years of study.
The tests are one-hour, primarily multiple choice, curriculum-based assessments of knowledge and skills in particular subject areas. A list of colleges that require or recommend SAT Subject Tests appears in The College Board College Handbook.
College-bound juniors need to determine if they have to take any SAT Subject Tests. The registration process can be lengthy and should be completed at www.collegeboard.com.
A limited number of fee waivers are available for students with free or reduced lunch. The Lynn English High School College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) code is 221265. Make sure that you take advantage of the free score reports that you can send to a limited number of colleges/universities.
ACT: American College Testing Program
The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The ACT Plus Writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 30 minute Writing Test. ACT results are accepted by all four year colleges and universities in the U.S. The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing). Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (plus 30 minutes if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing).
The ACT is administered on six test dates within the 50 United States and District of Columbia—in September, October, December, February, April, and June.
The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities. The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test.
The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test. You take the ACT Writing Test only if required by the college(s) you’re applying to. The SAT has a correction for guessing. That is, they take off for wrong answers. The ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers with no penalty for guessing. The ACT has an Interest Inventory that allows students to evaluate their interests in various career options.
College-bound juniors need to determine if colleges that interest them require ACT scores. Students may register at www.actstudent.org. A limited number of fee waivers are available for students with free or reduced lunch. The Lynn English High School College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) code is 221265. Make sure that you take advantage of the free score reports that you can send to a limited number of colleges/universities.
CLEP: College-Level Examination Program
The College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) gives you the opportunity to receive college credit for what you already know by earning qualifying scores on any of 33 examinations. Earn credit for knowledge you’ve acquired through independent study, prior course work, on-the-job training, professional development, cultural pursuits, or internships.
How does CLEP help you?
- Save time. Depending on your college’s CLEP policy, a satisfactory score on a CLEP exam can earn you from 3 to 12 college credits.
- Save money. The cost of a CLEP exam is $77, a fraction of the tuition and fees for the corresponding course.
- Make college more interesting. Skip general introductory courses and move on to more advanced classes, or explore new and challenging academic areas.
- Graduate on time. CLEP can help you to the finish line if you’re a few credits shy of graduation
- Satisfy a proficiency requirement. Demonstrate your ability in college math or a foreign language.
How to get started?
- Find out if your college accepts CLEP. Use the CLEP college search at www.collegeboard.com and talk to your admissions office, test center, or academic advisor.
- Read descriptions of all 33 exams at www.collegeboard.com and decide which to take.
- Register to take your exam(s) by contacting a CLEP test center at www.collegeboard.com and making an appointment.
- Start studying. Get a college textbook and review sample questions.
- Take your test!
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language
The purpose of the TOEFL is to evaluate the English proficiency of students whose native language is not English. Any student whose native language is not English should check with his/her guidance counselor to determine if this exam is necessary. The TOEFL measures your ability to communicate in English in colleges and universities.
Accepted by 7,000+ destinations in more than 130 countries, it is the most widely accepted English-language test in the world. You can take the Internet-based Test (iBT) or the Paper-based Test (PBT), depending on which format is offered at your test center.
Students may register at www.ets.org/toefl. The test can cost about $175.00.