Colleges and universities have different requirements for admission. There are even multiple options for college entrance exams. The exam you take depends on what you are interested in and what your potential college seeks; the options are the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Assessment Test (PSAT/NMSQT), the SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests.
Students often take this exam during the junior year of high school. It is becoming more common, however, for younger students to take it for extra preparation. It is meant to be practice for standardized testing. The test is split into three sections: reading, writing, and math. You have an hour to answer 47 reading questions, 35 minutes for 44 writing questions, and 70 minutes on 48 math questions. There is no penalty for guessing.
One of the most common and most traditional college entrance exams is the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which is offered seven times a year – once a month between October and June, excluding February. Most students take it in the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year.
It tests reading, vocabulary, grammar and usage, writing, and math. There are three umbrella sections: reading, writing and language, and math. Each section offers between 200 and 800 points, so you can get anywhere between 400 and 1600 on the test. The essay portion is scored separately. You can take the test multiple times to improve your score; however, each score you receive will be sent to the college, so they will be able to see your points each time you took it.
Another common option for an entrance exam is the ACT (American College Testing). It sometimes can be taken in place of the SAT, depending on what your prospective college wants. On the ACT, you can score between a one and a 36. The test is split up into four sections. The English portion is 45 minutes of grammar and writing, the math portion is an hour, reading comprehension is 35 minutes, and science is 35 minutes. There is also a fifth section for writing, but some colleges do not require it, so it is an optional part of the test.
The ACT is offered six times a year, and students usually take it the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year. You can take it multiple times to get the best score. The main difference between the ACT and the SAT is that you are offered slightly less time for each section on the ACT.
SAT Subject Tests
The fourth most common entrance exam is the SAT subject tests. Each one of these is a one-hour test that focuses on a specific field. Colleges can ask for up to three of these. They are offered in English, math, history, science, and foreign language. Each section is based on an 800-point scale, like each section in the complete SAT test. These can be taken at any time throughout high school. Students usually take them after they have finished a class that is relevant to the specific subject, so they can obtain the strongest score.