Many of you have already taken the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). Other tests you are likely to take are the SAT I Reasoning Test and the SAT II Subject Tests. All of these tests are published by the College Board in Princeton, NJ. Some of you will also choose to take the ACT from the American College Testing Program which is the competitor to the College Board.
The SAT I is made up of two sections, verbal and math. The verbal questions measure your ability to understand what you read and the extent of your vocabulary. There are two 30-minute sections plus one 15-minute section. Emphasis is on critical reading questions. The mathematical questions measure your ability to solve problems involving arithmetic reasoning, algebra and geometry. There are two 30-minute sections plus one 15-minute section. Calculator use is permitted and there are some questions that do not include multiple answer choices. In the SAT I test there is also one 30-minute equating section of verbal or math that does not count toward your score. SAT I scores are to be used, together with your high school record and other information about your academic and personal background, in making decisions about your readiness to undertake successfully study at different colleges and universities. A detailed description of the SAT I and a complete sample test and answer key are included in Taking the SAT I which is available in the Guidance Office.
SAT II Subject tests (formerly Achievement Tests) measure knowledge in a given subject area. A booklet, Taking the SAT II, available in the Career Center describes the various tests. Since these tests measure what you have already learned in a given subject, it is best for Juniors to take them as late as possible in the year. When you register for the SAT II you will be asked to indicate which specific Subject Test you plan to take on the test date you select. You may take one, two or three tests on any given test date; your testing fee will vary accordingly. Your selections at the time of registration are not binding; you may change your mind on the day of the test and select from any of the Subject Tests offered on that day. It is not recommended that you take more than two tests on a given day. If you wish to take an additional test (one that you have not already paid for), you may do so and you will be billed for the additional fee.
SAT II: Subject Tests are required by many of the more competitive schools for admission purposes, but a large number of colleges and universities do not require any of these tests. At some colleges, the scores from these exams are used to place entering students in particular freshman courses. Students should check with individual colleges to see which tests are required, if any, and speak to their guidance counselor to design a testing timetable.
The SAT II: Subject Tests in English include Writing and Literature.
The test in Writing is comprised of a 20-minute written response to a specific topic, followed by 40 minutes of multiple-choice questions assessing ability in identifying specific errors in sentences, in improving flawed sentences, and in reworking first drafts of multi-paragraphed essays.
The test in Literature is 60 minutes of multiple-choice questions based on English, American and other literature written in English from the Renaissance and 17th century to the 20th century. The test focuses on skills necessary to read poetry, prose and drama from different periods and cultures. To ensure maximum experience in text analysis, students should take it as late as application deadlines allow. Both tests are administered six times during an academic year. Many of the more competitive colleges require that one of the Subject Test scores submitted be the Writing test, and, consequently, those applying early decision/action should consider taking it in June of the junior year. Others might consider taking it in the fall of the senior year.
The SAT II: Subject Tests in math include Mathematics IC and IIC. Both "C" tests require the use of a scientific or graphing calculator. With few exceptions, the earliest a student should take a math Subject Test would be the end of the junior year. Most colleges accept either Math Level IC or Math II C. The Math Level IC test contains questions about algebra, geometry, basic trigonometry, algebraic functions, elementary statistics and other miscellaneous topics. The Math Level IIC contains fewer questions on algebra, none on plane geometry, but many questions on solid and coordinate geometry, trigonometric functions, statistics and other miscellaneous topics.
The SAT II: Subject Tests in science include Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Additional
preparation is often necessary for all students taking the Subject Tests in science. Consultation with the student's science teacher is recommended when deciding which test to take. The test in Biology may be taken at the end of Honors or Level I Biology in June of the sophomore year. The test in Chemistry may be taken at the end of the year in which the student takes Honors or Level 1 Chemistry. The test in Physics may be taken at the end of the Honors or Level I Physics course.
The SAT II: Subject Tests in History include American History and Social Studies and World History.
The SAT II: Subject Tests in world languages include French, French with Listening, Spanish, Spanish with Listening, Latin, Chinese with Listening, German, German with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, and Japanese with Listening. The tests in French and Spanish demand extensive vocabulary, advanced reading skills, and knowledge of fine (sometimes subtle) points of grammar. Because of these demands, students should take a language test at the latest possible time in their studies. Students may take a French, Spanish, Chinese or Japanese Subject Test which includes a listening component. These exams are given only in November. The registration deadline for the listening exams is October 1, 2001. The Latin Subject Test is given only in December and June. Students should plan to take this test at the last possible time.
The ACT, an alternative to the SAT, is administered by the American College Testing Service. While many colleges prefer the SAT I and SAT II: Subject Tests to the ACT, an increasing number of colleges will accept either test. The bulk of universities that require the ACT are public or private institutions located in the Midwest, South and West. Students should check a dependable college handbook or even a college's catalog if they are unsure of which test might be needed for particular colleges. The ACT is composed of four 35- to 50-minute sections in English usage, mathematics usage, social studies reading, and natural science reading. The main difference between the ACT and the SAT is that the ACT is a yardstick of both reasoning ability and knowledge of specific subject matter covered in classes. If students need more information about the ACT, they should seek out an ACT guide or check with their guidance counselors. ACT applications are available from your guidance counselor.
Advanced Placement (AP) tests are designed to measure, in depth, a student's proficiency in a given subject area. Each exam is three hours in length. Students who demonstrate a sufficiently high level of achievement on the tests may be granted college credit for work they have completed in high school, or they may be excused from a freshman course requirement in a specific subject. AP tests are given at NHS; check with the Guidance Office if you have questions about these tests.
Students whose native language is not English should consider taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL measures ability to understand spoken English, ability to recognize language that is appropriate for standard written English, and ability to understand non-technical reading matter. The ELPT subject test is an alternative to TOFEL. Students may get more information about the TOEFL by checking with their guidance counselor.