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Standardized Tests

Their names can sometimes sound like alphabet soup, but the standardized tests you will take in high school are important for college. Some colleges require specific tests, so make sure to check the requirements of the schools you are considering. Here are the four main tests you will have to take when applying to most colleges:


PLAN is the pre-ACT test taken by tenth-graders to help students estimate how well they will do on the ACT. It is a comprehensive guidance resource that helps students measure their current academic development, explore career or training options, and make plans for the remaining years of high school and post-graduation. Talk to your high school counselor for more information about PLAN.


This standardized test is designed to assess high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. It is often used for college admission decisions, and virtually all U.S. colleges and universities accept ACT results. The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science, as well as an optional writing test.


The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is a two-part exam that is very similar to the SATŪ. The PSAT consists of two, 25-minute verbal sections; two, 25-minute math sections; and one, 30-minute writing skills section. Most students take the PSAT in the fall of their junior year in high school, although some choose to take it during their sophomore year. Scores on the PSAT are used to determine which students are National Merit Scholars, students who qualify for merit-based scholarships distributed throughout the United States. Talk to your high school counselor for more information.


The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is one of two standardized tests used by colleges as part of their admissions requirements. The SAT Reasoning Test™ is a three-hour exam that measures verbal and math reasoning skills used for admission. Scores on each section range from 200 to 800 points. The SAT Subject Test™ consists of more than 20 achievement tests designed to measure subject-area knowledge.

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