College testing often produces anxiety among students and parents. Most colleges and universities require applicants to submit standardized test results from either the SAT Reasoning Test or ACT, and in some cases, SAT Subject Tests, or AP tests. It is important to remember that testing is only one component of a student's application for admission. Admission to a college or university is based on many different factors, including the tests.
Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test (PSAT): The PSAT Reasoning Tests designed to measure verbal, writing, and mathematical reasoning abilities, and is not an accurate measure of other factors or abilities such as creativity, special talents, or motivation. At Blake, students take the PSAT in the sophomore and junior years in order to practice for the SAT Reasoning Test, gaining familiarity with the format and types of questions asked on the SAT. The PSAT also gives students an estimate of what they might be expected to score on the SAT Reasoning Test.
The PSAT that Blake students take in the junior year is used by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to determine semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship, National Achievement Scholars (African American students), and National Hispanic Scholars. For more information about the National Merit Program, visit www.collegeboard.com
Reasoning Test: The SAT Reasoning Test is designed to focus on critical reading, mathematics and writing skills. The SAT standard administration is three hours and forty-five minutes, and is composed of multiple choice questions and an essay. Scores range from 200 (low) to 800 (high) on each section for a maximum score of 2400. Most colleges are not yet considering the writing score, so colleges still primarily refer to the scores based on a maximum score of 1600 rather than 2400. We recommend that students take the SAT more than once because students tend to score higher the second time, and we know that colleges will consider your best scores from different test dates. We do not recommend that students take the test more than three times. Believe it or not, student scores tend to go down after the third test, and colleges might average scores from more than three dates. For SAT Reasoning Test information or registration go to www.collegeboard.com. Although Blake registers students for the PSAT, it is the responsibility of each student to register for all other standardized tests.
Test (ACT): The ACT comprised of four tests plus an optional writing section that measure abilities in English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning, and yields a separate score in each area, as well as one overall composite score. The score range is 1 (low) to 36 (high) in each section. The ACT is a measure of academic development which relies, in part, on the student's knowledge of the subject matter fields, reasoning abilities, and the ability to use both together. Some students perform better on this test format, and colleges accept the ACT in place of the SAT and/or SAT Subject Test, so we encourage Blake students to take both SAT and ACT with writing. Like the SAT, students tend to perform better the second time they take this test. For ACT information or registration go to act.org. Act offers an optional writing test, which we advise students to take.
Subject Tests (formerly known as the SATII): The Subject Tests measure students' knowledge of particular subjects and their ability to apply that knowledge. Many students take two or more of these tests, while some take none at all. Subject tests are given in literature, American history, world history, math (two levels), biology, chemistry, physics, and numerous foreign languages in both reading and listening.
Some selective colleges still require as many as three subject test scores. The best time to take a subject test is at the conclusion of the course of study for which a subject test is available. For SAT Subject Test information or registration go to collegeboard.com
Test Score Reporting Most colleges now require test scores to be sent directly from the testing agencies. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that test scores are sent in a timely manner; the testing agencies will not release scores at the request of the College Counselors. To send SAT scores, students should go to the College Board website at www.collegeboard.com and for ACT scores, www.act.org.