Standardized Tests

Last week, we directed your attention to our new featured infographic "8 Steps to College," which you can download as a printable pdf, or just enjoy online. In that installment, we focused on the importance of academic preparation, in terms of getting good grades in good courses, and elaborated on different ways you can earn college credits while still in high school.

This week, we'll look more specifically at Step 3, which involves entrance exams. It's important to know that tests aren't everything, and that colleges and universities make admissions decisions based on a number of factors. Nonetheless, test scores do matter, and you can help yourself by being prepared.

Interestingly, different colleges used to give their own admissions tests, and it was early in the 20th century when the idea caught on that a student could take a standardized admissions test and send the results to several colleges. Just imagine, without this system, you might have to take six different tests to apply to six different schools!

You can learn more about different tests and how to prepare here, but here is a quick summary of some key points:

  • For the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) and the SAT you can contact The College Board Online or your guidance counselor for more information or to take a free practice test.
  • For the ACT, you can contact the ACT website or you guidance counselor for more information or to take a free practice test.
  • Lastly, if English is not your native language, it may be a good idea for you to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This test measures your English proficiency in reading, writing, and listening. You can learn more about TOEFL and other assessments at the TOEFL website.