PSAT (Preliminary SAT)
Students are encouraged to take the PSAT during both sophomore and junior year. The PSAT essentially serves as a practice test for the SAT, yielding useful information regarding student strengths and weaknesses that may inform subsequent SAT preparation. Students who score high on the PSAT during junior year may also qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The PSAT is administered at Eastern Christian High School each year in October.
SAT & ACT
Many colleges require either the SAT or ACT for admission and have no preference for one test over the other. During junior and senior meetings, the academic and college counselors will discuss an appropriate individualized testing plan with each student. Typically, students will take a combination of these tests during the winter/spring of junior year, summer, and fall of senior year. Taking these tests multiple times is advantageous from a familiarity standpoint, but also because most colleges practice “superscoring”, which means they will combine your highest section scores across multiple test dates.
The SAT is offered 7 times per year and measures evidence-based reading and writing, and mathematics skills. For more information, test dates, registration deadlines, and practice resources, visit the College Board’s website.
The ACT is offered 7 times per year and measures English, mathematics, science, reading, and writing skills. For more information, test dates, registration deadlines, and practice resources, visit ACT’s website.
AP Exams (Advanced Placement)
AP exams are seldom required by colleges but can help strengthen a student’s application to competitive schools. These tests are designed to assess strength in a specific content area. Strong AP scores may also be accepted as college credit by many colleges. AP exams are administered each year in May. Registration occurs in the Academic and College Counseling Office in February. Visit the AP section of the College Board’s website for more information and a complete list of available subjects.
More and more colleges are becoming test optional, meaning students can still apply and be accepted without submitting SAT or ACT scores. While applying test optional can be a good strategy for some students, we strongly recommend all students make at least one attempt at either the SAT or ACT. Most colleges adopted test optional policies during the pandemic, but it is unclear how many will retain those policies in the years to come. It is also worth remembering that test optional does not mean test blind, so a strong test score can still strengthen your application at test optional schools. Click here for a complete list of test-optional colleges.
Test prep comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and prices, so families are encouraged to consider a method of preparation suitable for their expectations and needs. The College Board and ACT websites (links above) contain some convenient, free resources that are worth exploring. The Academic and College Counseling Office would be happy to provide recommendations for alternative test prep options upon request.