If you intend to apply to 4 year universities directly from high school, you need to take either the SAT or the ACT. You may also have to take several SAT Subject Tests. The ONLY way to be absolutely certain to keep your options open is to take BOTH the SAT and the ACT and verify with your college of choice what they expect.
The PSAT is a “practice” SAT test that is useful for many reasons. First, it is a way for you to experience taking a test very similar to the SAT so that you get familiar with the questions/subjects that will be asked of you on the SAT. This will better prepare you for the SAT. Second, you will given a score report a couple months after you take the test which will explain your areas of strength and those that may need more improvement. This will help you know what you need to study more of before the next test. Lastly, Juniors who take the PSAT, with a high enough score, may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. We encourage 10th and 11th grade students to take the PSAT and you can take it more than once. This test is offered in October of each year.
The PLAN is a practice test for the ACT, and should be taken in the 9th, 10th and/or 11th grade. The PLAN includes four multiple-choice tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Your PLAN test results can show you your strengths and weaknesses, as well as give you an idea of how you will do on the actual ACT. This test is offered in December of each year.
Register at: www.sat.collegeboard.org
Students should take the SAT in the spring of their 11th grade year and again (if desired) in the fall of their 12th grade year. The SAT test includes multiple choice English and math parts, as well as an essay component. Fee waivers are available in counseling if applicable.
Register at: www.actstudent.org
Students should take the ACT in the spring of their 11th grade year and again (if desired) in the fall of their 12th grade year. The ACT test includes multiple choice English, reading, math and science parts, as well as an essay component. The essay is optional but strongly recommended as many schools require the score. Fee waivers are available in counseling if applicable.
What is the difference between the SAT and ACT? How do I know which one to take?
Due to the differences in the tests, we encourage students to attempt both. It is hard to know which test a particular student will score better on so it is recommended to take both. Some of the differences between the tests can be found below: