College Entrance Exams SAT/ ACT
What is the SAT?
The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that lets you show colleges what you know and how well you can apply that knowledge. It tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math -- subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, and almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions. Some students in lower grade levels become curious about taking the SAT and ACT exams. We encourage all students to take these exams for exposure. This allows the student to feel less stressed and has a better idea of what to expect when they take these exams in 11th and 12th grade.
Taking the SAT is the first step in finding the right college for you -- the place where you can further develop your skills and pursue your passions. But SAT scores are just one of many factors that colleges consider when making their admission decisions. High school grades are also very important. In fact, the combination of high school grades and SAT scores is the best predictor of your academic success in college.
What does the SAT test?
The SAT doesn't test logic or abstract reasoning. It tests the skills you're learning in school: reading, writing, and math. Your knowledge and skills in these subjects are important for success in college and throughout your life.
The critical reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions.
The writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.
The mathematics section includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability.
SAT Subject Exam at a glance
- Hour-long college entrance exams based on high school course work
- 20 tests offered across five subject areas: math level II, language, science, history and literature
- Each test is scored on a 200 to 800-point scale
How colleges use them
- To gain great insight into student academic acievement
- To contextualize student grades and other credentials to make admission decisions
- To place students in the appropriate college course level
Advising students of specific majors to take specific subject tests for the UC’s:
It is best advised that UC applicants take the Subject Tests anyway since for some campuses the tests add value to the application upon evaluation.
If the applicant is a native Spanish speaker, by all means that applicant must take Spanish as one of the tests.
How can I do my best on the SAT?
The best way to get ready for the SAT is to take challenging courses, study hard, and read and write in and outside of the classroom.
Studies suggest that cramming and short-term prep can't substitute for hard work in school, but it's certainly a good idea for you to become familiar and comfortable with the test format and question types. That's why the best SAT practice is the PSAT/NMSQT, which covers the same subjects under timed conditions. Remember, a little practice goes a long way.
Another recommendation is to take a practice test/course through Revolutionary Prep or Princeton Review. (Please review flyers at the end of this page.)
Is the SAT the most important factor in college admission?
The SAT is just one factor among many that colleges use to get to know you better. It's best to keep the test in perspective and understand that it's only part of a comprehensive admission process that also recognizes other factors, like extracurricular activities and personal recommendations.
Every college and university uses a different combination of criteria for admission. Feel free to reach out to the schools you're interested in to understand their unique admission policies.
Which SAT questions make it onto the exam?
Every SAT question goes through a very careful review process before making it into your exam booklet. Each question that you see has been:
- Reviewed by a team of experts, including math and English teachers, to make sure that it reflects what most college-bound students are learning in school.
- Thoroughly tested to make sure that it is fair for students of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
- Questions that don't make it through these steps will never show up on an actual exam.
Information provided by College Board--SAT
How much does it cost to take the SAT?
SAT I (also known as: SAT Reasoning)
Regular registration: $47
Late registration: $71
SAT II (also known as SAT Subject)
Base fee: $21 (per test date)
Language w/Listening Tests: +$21(per test)
All other subject tests: +$10 (per test)
Additional fees apply if you register late or make changes to your test type, center or date after registering.
What is a fee waiver?
Fee waivers cover more than just the testing fees. When you register for the SAT or SAT Subject Tests, the fee waiver will cover: 1) the registration fee, 2) four additional flexible score reports, 3) Question-and-Answer Service or Student Answer Service, 4) Up to four Request for Waiver of College Application Fee Forms, 5) A $40 discount off the regular price the Official SAT Online Course, and 6) Any fees associated with registering internationally.
The College Board offers assistance to students for whom payment of SAT and SAT Subject Tests fees may be a barrier to testing and applying for college.
Am I eligible for a fee waiver?
Students who submit a lunch ticket application and qualify for the FREE or REDUCED lunch program also qualify for two SAT fee waivers in 11th grade and 12th grade. If you think your family may qualify for SAT fee waivers, please see Ms. Pérez, your college counselor to determine if you are eligible to receive fee waivers. There is a limited amount. First come, first serve.
Go to www.collegeboard.com to register online.
The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in:
- English, Mathematics, Reading, & Science.
This exam is usually taken by 11th and 12th grade students. Some students in lower grade levels become curious about taking the ACT and SAT exams. We encourage all students to take these exams for exposure. This allows the student to feel less stressed and has a better idea of what to expect when they take these exams in 11th and 12th grade.
The ACT Plus Writing (recommended for 4 year colleges/universities) includes the four subject area tests plus a 30-minute Writing Test.
ACT results are accepted by all 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. This exam ncludes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing). Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (plus 30 minutes if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing).
The ACT is administered on six test dates within the 50 United States and District of Columbia—in September, October, December, February, April, and June. In other locations, the ACT is administered on five test dates—all of the above dates except September.
The basic registration fee includes score reports for up to four college choices, if you list valid codes when you register.
The ACT tests are prepared according to the:
- Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education (1999).
- Code of Professional Responsibilities in Educational Measurement, National Council on Measurement in Education (1995).
- Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education, Joint Committee on Testing Practices (2004).
Students who submit a lunch ticket application & qualify for FREE or REDUCED lunch can see Ms. Henry for a FEE WAIVER. (First come, first serve.) Additional fees apply if you register late or make changes to your test date after registering.
ACT Plus Writing Fees
Regular registrations: $48
Late registration: $69
Test Date Change: additional $20
Go to www.actstudent.org and register online.
Each year, LAUSD high schools administer the PSAT/NMSQT. The number of students taking the PSAT has been identified as one of the strongest indicators of a college-going culture at a school. For 2011-12, as in the previous four years, the District will pay for all 10th grade students to take the PSAT. Eleventh graders also should be encouraged to take the PSAT/NMSQT to be eligible for scholarships and grants and to prepare for college admissions testing. Fee waivers are available from the College Board for eleventh graders who qualify.
LAUSD high schools that promote and administer the PSAT/NMSQT to ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students as the result of counselors, teachers, administrators and parents working together demonstrates a strong belief in developing a college-going culture for all students.
What's on the Test?
The PSAT/NMSQT includes five sections:
- Two 25-minute critical reading sections
- Two 25-minute math sections
- One 30-minute writing skills section
The whole test requires two hours and 10 minutes.
- Two 25-minute critical reading sections = 48 questions
- 13 Sentence completions
- 35 Critical reading questions
- Two 25-minute math sections = 38 questions
- 28 multiple-choice math questions
- 10 Student-produced responses or grid-ins
Students are advised to bring a calculator with which they are comfortable. Students should have basic knowledge of 4 math categories:
- Numbers and Operation
- Algebra and Functions (but not 3rd year level math that may appear on the new SAT)
- Geometry and Measurement
- Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability
- One 30-minute writing section = 39 questions
- 14 Identifying sentence errors
- 20 Improving sentences
- 5 Improving paragraph questions
These multiple-choice questions on writing skills measure a student's ability to express ideas effectively in standard-written English, to recognize faults in usage and structure, and to use language with sensitivity to meaning.
Scholarships & Recognition
By taking the PSAT/NMSQT, you may qualify to enter the competitions for prestigious scholarships and participate in recognition programs.
As cosponsor of the PSAT/NMSQT, (NMSC) receives all students' scores. If you do not want your scores released to other recognition programs, contact us:
The National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP)
National Scholarship Service
The Telluride Association
National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC)
Students in the eleventh grade of high school enter NMSC competitions by taking the PSAT/NMSQT, which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year, and by meeting published program entry and/or participation requirements. NMSC uses the Selection Index score (the sum of the critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills scores) on the PSAT/NMSQT as an initial screen of program entrants and to designate groups of students to be honored in the competitions it conducts.
For more information about NMSC, visit www.nationalmerit.org.
National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP)
Our National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) was initiated in 1983 to identify outstanding Hispanic/Latino high school students and to share information about you with interested colleges and universities. In order to be eligible, you must be at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino as defined by the NHRP, meet the minimum PSAT/NMSQT cutoff score for your state, and achieve a minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement.
Each year, the NHRP identifies nearly 5,000 of the highest-scoring students (from a nationwide total of more than 200,000 juniors) in the United States and U.S. Territories who take the PSAT/NMSQT and designate themselves as Hispanic/Latino. Approximately 150 of the top scoring PAA™ students from Puerto Rico are also listed. Learn more about qualifying for the NHRP and how it can help you get into college.
National Scholarship Service (NSSFNS)
The NSSFNS offers a free college advisory and referral service for students who plan to attend two-year or four-year colleges. Scores are sent for students in eleventh grade who indicate that they are African American. (Note: This program is not conducted by NMSC.)
For more information, write to:
National Scholarship Service
980 Martin Luther King Drive, SW, PO Box 11409
Atlanta, GA 30310
The Telluride Association
The Telluride Association offers scholarships to gifted juniors for summer seminars in the humanities and social sciences. (This program is not conducted by NMSC.)
For more information, visit www.tellurideassociation.org or write to:
217 West Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
For more information about the PSAT/NMSQT goto: www.collegeboard.com