Their names can sometimes sound like alphabet soup, but the standardized
tests you will take in high school are important for college. Some schools
require different tests, so you want to make sure to check with each one
about their requirements. Here are the four main tests you may have to take
if you want to apply to most colleges:
The 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/training options, and make plans for the remaining years
of high school and post-graduation years. 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 often is 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
The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) is a two-part, exam that is very similar to
the SAT. The PSAT consists of two 25-minute verbal sections, two 25-minute
math sections, and one 30-minute writing skills section. Most people take
the PSAT in the fall of their junior year in high school. Some students
choose to take it during their sophomore year. Scores on the PSAT are used
to determine 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 SAT is one of two standardized tests used by colleges as part of
their admissions requirements. The SAT I is a three-hour exam that measures
verbal and math reasoning skills used for admission. Scores on each section
range from 200-800 points. The SAT II consists of more than 20 subject areas,
or achievement tests designed to measure subject-area knowledge.