Making Sense of the Testing Options and Requirements for College Applications

HELP-Standardized TestsGone are the days of simply taking the SAT to meet college application requirements.

Today, students are presented with a variety of exams, some required, some optional.  These exams include:

  1. SAT (New SAT for class of 2017 and beyond)
  2. ACT
  3. SAT Subject Tests (also known as SAT II Tests)
  4. AP Exams:

(In effort to make this article a manageable length, the above list does not include IB testing or major-specific exams.)

The Basics

  • The majority of four year colleges require applicants to submit scores from the SAT OR the ACT.
  • Some highly selective schools require or strongly recommend that applicants submit scores from two or three SAT Subject Tests.
  • Some schools accept the ACT with Writing in lieu of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests.  For more information on this complicated decision, please read these articles written by Nancy Griesemer who has done extensive research on this topic.

With all of these testing requirements, it is important to create a testing plan in high school.  Freshman year is not too early to plot out the test plan since some tests may be taken then.

Possible Testing Timeline beginning Junior Year

  • SAT OR ACT :  Take one of these tests Two times between January and June (This leaves September/October of Senior Year available as additional test dates if needed.  Ideally, however, all testing is complete by the end of Junior Year – Senior year is very busy with applications and essays.)
  • SAT Subject Tests:  These should be taken May or June of the year the subject is studied
  • AP Exams:  These are given in May of the Year the subject is studied
  • Class of 2017 suggested SAT/ACT prep timeline

EdNavigators recommends the following:

  • Take a full length practice ACT and a full length practice SAT to see which test you prefer.  Prepare for the test you prefer and plan to take the test “for real” at least twice.  *Many students select to take both tests…in this case, two additional test-prep sessions would be required to discuss content and strategy for the test the student did not prep for.  The content covered on the SAT and ACT is very similar (EDNavigators Test Prep Packages are described on this page – Package 2 is to prep for the SAT OR the ACT, Package 2B is to prep for the SAT AND the ACT)
  • Take the SAT Subject Tests and AP tests around the same time because they can test similar information.   It also makes sense to take them right after completing the course.  (If a student takes Honors Biology as a Freshman, he/she should take the test(s) Spring of freshman year.)

If you feel your standardized test scores don’t represent your abilities, don’t panic. There are also FairTest Schools.  A recent study revealed that students who chose not to submit standardized test scores for entry into college still performed well in college.

For now, however, many colleges do still require standardized test scores.  It is worth the time and effort to make a plan and prepare.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Consultant, EdNavigators

One Reply to “Making Sense of the Testing Options and Requirements for College Applications”

Comments are closed.