Take the tests
U.S. Department of Education
 
Most colleges in the U.S. require that students submit scores from standardized tests as part of their application packages. The most commonly accepted tests are the ACT Assessment?, SAT I, and SAT II. For information about which you should take, talk
to your high school counselor or to the admissions office(s) at the college(s) to which you will apply.

The ACT Assessment

The ACT Assessment consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, reading, mathematics, and science reasoning. It is offered several times a year at locations across the country-usually at high schools and colleges.

For detailed information about the Assessment, including information about preparing to take the test, what to take with you on test day, and understanding your scores, visit www.act.org.

The SAT Tests

SAT I: Reasoning. The SAT I is a three-hour test that measures a student's ability rather than knowledge. It is split into sections that cover verbal and mathematical reasoning skills. Most of the questions are multiple-choice.

SAT II: Subject Tests. The SAT II subject tests measure knowledge in specific subjects within five general categories: English, mathematics, history, science, and languages. The specific subjects range from English literature to Biology to Modern Hebrew. SAT II subject tests are primarily multiple-choice, and each lasts one hour.

Both the SAT I and SAT II are offered several times a year at locations across the country. For detailed information about the SAT I or SAT II, including information about preparing to take the test, what to take with you on test day, and understanding your scores, visit www.collegeboard.org.

Other common tests

For information and registration for any of the tests described below, visit www.collegeboard.org.

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, commonly known as the PSAT, is usually taken in the student's junior year. It's a good way to practice for the SAT tests, and it serves as a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's scholarship programs. The PSAT measures skills in verbal reasoning, critical reading, mathematics problem solving, and writing.

The two- to three-hour Advanced Placement (AP) Program exams are usually taken after the student completes an AP course in the relevant subject. (Speak to your high school counselor about taking AP classes.) A good grade on an AP exam can qualify the student for college credit and/or "advanced placement" in that subject in college. For example, if a student scores well on the AP English Literature exam, he or she might not have to take the college's required freshman-level English course. Most AP tests are at least partly made up of essay questions; some include multiple-choice questions. The tests are offered each spring; each test is offered once, with a makeup day a few weeks later.

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers students the opportunity to gain college credit by taking an exam. Usually, a student takes the tests at the college where he or she is already enrolled. Not all colleges offer credit based on CLEP tests, and different colleges offer different amounts of credit for the same test, so do your research before committing to an exam. Your best source of information is your college.