Standardized testing is an important factor in admissions decisions at most highly selective colleges and universities. A few institutions have downplayed the importance of scores, and some have eliminated test requirements entirely, but those institutions are in the minority. At most colleges standardized testing still matters.

We want our students to understand the testing requirements and, just as importantly, to keep testing in perspective. Students’ academic achievement and extracurricular activities are more important than test scores, both in terms of acquiring a first-rate education and in terms of enhancing their chances of admission to selective institutions.

SAT

The SAT, formerly known as the SAT I and the SAT Reasoning Test, is primarily a multiple-choice test containing verbal and math sections. It is designed to measure your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Colleges and universities use the test as a “standard” measure when evaluating your credentials during the admissions process. In general, taking the test more than three times is not necessary, though there are reasons one might choose to do so; if for some reason you are thinking of this we suggest you come and talk with your college counselor. With Score Choice, you will have the ability to send your best SAT scores from specific test dates to the colleges (you cannot break out the sub-scores and only send the Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), for example). Even if a college requires that you send all of your scores, the vast majority of colleges will focus on your best EBRW score and Math score, even if they are achieved on different test days. The College Board offers online registration collegeboard.org.

ACT

ACT stands for American College Tests, a battery which combines elements of aptitude and achievement test in one single instrument. Like the SAT, the ACT helps predict academic achievement in college and serves as a standard measure by which students from diverse educational backgrounds can be compared. The ACT is a content-based multiple-choice test with four sections: English, reading comprehension, mathematics and science reasoning. Students receive a score for each section as well as a composite score ranging from 1 to 36.  The ACT focuses more on grammar, punctuation and general comprehension than the SAT.

If you have taken the ACT test more than once, ACT maintains a separate record for each test date. Unlike the SAT, they will release only the record(s) from the test date(s) you designate. This protects you and ensures that you maintain control of your records. However, you may not select test sub-scores from different test dates to construct a new composite score; you must designate an entire test date record as it stands. ACT does not create new records by averaging scores from different test dates. The ACT offers online registration at act.org.

SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject Tests, formerly called the SAT IIs, are one-hour, primarily multiple-choice tests designed to measure knowledge in a particular subject and the application of that knowledge. There are twenty subject areas. Some colleges may require SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT and/or the ACT. Some colleges that require the SAT subject tests insist that students take either the Math Level I or the Math Level II and one additional test left to the discretion of the student. These scores are used as part of the admissions process and for placement after admission is offered. Requirements, including “how many” and “which” tests should be taken, differ from institution to institution. You must refer to the admission requirements of each school to which you will apply in order to determine specific testing requirements and how the results will be used. With Score Choice, you have ability to send specific subject test scores to the colleges so lower scores do not need to be reported. The College Board offers online registration at collegeboard.org.

Middlesex students typically take two SAT Subject Tests in May and two SAT Subject Tests in June of their junior year; and, depending upon their performance, they retake one to three more tests in October, November or December of their senior year.

To learn more about the SAT Subject Tests, we recommend that you go to the College Board website: collegeboard.org/student/testing/sat/lc_two.html. The College Board offers detailed explanations of each subject test, opportunities to take mini-practice tests, free downloadable publications and information about test preparation.

Most selective colleges require that applicants take two SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT and/or the ACT. Like individual sections of the SAT, the subject tests are scored on a 200 to 800 scale. College admissions offices collect the two or three best test scores from different test dates and focus on them when they consider a student’s application. The scores from the subject tests serve a dual purpose for the colleges; they are important indicators in the selection process and for appropriate course placement once students enroll. If a student is able to take a subject test in his or her freshman or sophomore year because they are presently engaged in the material and may not take the AP course in the same subject their junior year, the student will have greater flexibility and more test score options available as he or she attempts to assemble the two best subject test scores for the college process. We recommend that you touch base with colleges on subject test policies.