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Testing » SAT / ACT Testing

SAT / ACT Testing

Here is a link to collegeboard’s webpage that outlines the changes which will take effect for the Oct, 2015 PSAT and the Spring 2016 SAT tests:College Entrance Exams
What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?

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 Reading, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.

The College Board introduced a new version of the SAT in 2005, with a mandatory writing test. ACT continues to offer its well-established test, plus an optional writing test. You take the ACT Writing Test only if required or requested by the college(s) you're applying to.

The SAT penalizes you for wrong answers, so guessing is discouraged. 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.

The SAT and ACT are standardized, objective tests that are required for entrance into four-year colleges and universities. Your scores show colleges how ready you are to handle the work at their institutions and how your skills compare with other applicants. As a high school Junior, you should be preparing to take these exams during the spring of your Junior year or at the latest, fall of your Senior year.

PSAT/NMSQT: Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test The PSAT/NMSQT, a short form of the SAT, measures verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities. It serves four purposes:
  • Allows students to compare their academic abilities with other college-bound students at their specific grade level.
  • Familiarizes students with the SAT.
  • Shows the student areas on which he/she may need to concentrate additional preparation before taking the SAT.
  • Allows college-bound juniors to compete for National Merit Scholarship.

The test is offered only in October and should be taken by all sophomores and college-bound juniors. Freshman are encouraged to take the test for practice.

Once you receive results & access code, go to Collegeboard's My College QuickStart. This site will give you a personalized online PSAT score report, personalized SAT study plan, and an interactive college/career/major match. This letter will give you more information about how to utilize QuickStart. This PSAT powerpoint presentation advises students on using the feedback provided in the score report and in My College QuickStart™ to improve their academic skills and plan for college and beyond. For the parents, a Parent Tutorial for Understanding PSAT/NMSQT Results.

  • Method of Scoring: Scores adjusted for guessing. Penalty for incorrect responses.
  • Test Score Scales: 200-800 on each of three areas: Critical Reading (formerly Verbal), Writing, Math
  • Total: 600-2400 (sum of Critical Reading (formerly Verbal), Writing, & Math)

SAT II Subject Tests

SAT II tests are required at many competitive colleges. Check with the admissions office at the school to which you are applying. The Subject Tests measure students’ knowledge and skills in a particular subject and their ability to apply that knowledge.

  • Method of Scoring: Scores based on number of right answers. No penalty for guessing.
  • Test Score Scales: 1-36 for each four sections. English 25%; Reading 25%; Math 25%; Social Science 25%
  • Composite: 1-36 (average of 4 test scores)

How to prepare for the PSAT, SAT or ACT:
  • Take the SAT/ACT Prep course.
  • Use an outside preparation agency.
  • Go online to the Collegeboard or ACT preparation websites.

The following link has a nice review for the ACT:

Texas Success Initiative

Students attending Texas public institutions of higher education must be in compliance with the Texas Success Initiative (TSI), as of fall 2003 (Texas Education Code §51.3062) in order to enroll in public institutions of higher education. The law requires all entering college students to be assessed for college readiness in reading, mathematics and writing unless the student qualifies for an exemption. Each student who fails to meet the minimum passing standard of the exam offered by the institution must be placed in a developmental education program designed to help the student achieve college readiness.

Which students must take a TSI exam?

Unless exempt, students who are entering a Texas college or university must take a TSI exam and receive a passing score in order to enroll in credit bearing courses. Students may be exempt from taking a TSI exam by achieving any of the requirements: ACT score of 23 or higher with at least a 19 on the English test and/or math section; OR a SAT combined verbal and math score of 1070 with a minimum of 500 on the verbal test and/or math test.

When do students take a TSI exam?

Students must take a TSI exam and have scores on file before they can enroll in college-level classes. Each college and university offers a different exam. A student must take the exam required by the college or university he/she will be attending. Students are notified of their scores and eligibility to enroll in credit bearing courses immediately upon completing an exam.
Testing for College Credit

AP: Advanced Placement Testing

Advanced Placement Examinations are administered at SHS during the spring of each year. These exams are based upon college-level courses taught in high school. Exam scores are reported on a five-point scale with five being the highest score. A score of three or better is acceptable for advanced placement and college credit by most colleges.

CLEP College Level Examination Program

CLEP provides an opportunity for individuals who have acquired certain knowledge outside the traditional classroom to earn core academic college credits through an examination. The scores range from 200-800. Some colleges give credit for scores above 500, enabling students to skip certain courses. Students can register for and take CLEP Exams at most college and university testing centers.