Thinking about Standardized Testing

Selecting Classes

When thinking about selecting high school classes, don't choose classes with standardized testing in mind. Choose classes you will find interesting and challenging. However, don't forget to take a subject test after you've taken the class.


There are two main standardized tests used in the college admissions process: the ACT and the SAT. With standardized testing, preparation is important. So, what’s the best way to prepare for the ACT or the SAT? Many students will take the “pre” SAT or ACT—the PSAT corresponds to the SAT, and the ACT Aspire to the ACT—sometime during 10th or 11th grade. These tests may be held during school hours, and most, if not all, students in your school will participate. Talk to your school counselor if you’re not sure if or when the tests will be offered at your school. Both of these tests have similar layouts to the SAT and the ACT, and will be a good way for you to get familiar with the formats of the tests and the experience of taking them. It’s important to note that neither qualifies as an official SAT or ACT—you’ll still need to plan to take the SAT or the ACT later on. Your PSAT score is the basis of potential qualification for the National Merit scholarship competition; this competition can help you access scholarships offered by a variety of colleges or sponsored by national corporations.

SAT Subject Tests

The College Board offers 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general areas: English, history, mathematics, science and languages. Fee waivers are available to high school students. Typically, you are eligible for a fee waiver if:

  • You are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program
  • You are enrolled in a program like TRIO or Upward Bound
  • See the College Board's fee waiver page to learn more about eligibility. (Note there are limits on how many waivers you can receive.)

Test Optional

Test-optional schools ask for portfolios of graded work in lieu of standardized testing. Don't forget to save graded papers in your Locker!

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