Many colleges and universities require college entrance examinations (SAT and ACT) in the admissions process. Students should take practice tests, including the PSAT, and sign up to take the tests early in their junior year in order to allow ample time to retest.
PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)
The Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) (more often simply called the PSAT) is nationally administered by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), and assesses students in three areas: Verbal, Mathematics, and Writing.
The PSAT is used to help students practice for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and to qualify for scholarships and recognition from such programs as: National Merit Scholarships, National Achievement Scholarships for Outstanding African American Students, National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program, Student Search Service, and some statewide and national industry scholarship competitions. Registration information will be available in the school counselor’s office at each high school.
SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test)
The SAT is an optional test nationally administered by the College Board. It assesses students in the following areas: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math and an optional Essay.
The redesigned SAT focuses on knowledge, skills, and understandings that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success. There is a greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact. The SAT is one of the admissions tests used by post-secondary institutions to assist in selecting students.
The SAT is administered at selected sites nationally. Students must pay and register online or by mail several weeks prior to the test date. Registration information is available in the school counselors’ office at each high school and at www.collegeboard.org.
The ACT assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The ACT has five sub scores: four multiple-choice tests covering skill areas of English, Mathematics, reading, and science; the Writing Test measuring skill in planning and writing a short essay.
The ACT is also administered at selected sites nationally. For these administrations, students must pay and register online or by mail several weeks prior to the test date. Registration information is available in the school counselor’s office at each high school. More information is available at www.actstudent.org.
College Entrance Exam Tips
Sign up to take the SAT (https://www.collegeboard.org/) and ACT (http://www.act.org/) for the first time as a sophomore or junior. Taking these tests early will allow you plenty of time to learn from your first testing experience, practice, and retest if needed before college applications are due your senior year.
Study a little each evening instead of cramming the night before testing. Learning works best when done over time so that you can retain the information long term instead of just memorizing overnight.
Get a good night’s rest the night before testing. Your brain will work best after 8-10 hours of sleep so be sure to go to bed early so that you can do your best on test day.
Eat a nutritious breakfast on test day. Remember that food is your body’s fuel and just like you would fill up your gas tank before a long road trip; your body needs fuel to do its best.
Use your resources to practice each day! Studying for college entrance tests like the ACT and SAT has never been more convenient. Use your smartphone, tablet, or computer to practice daily with SAT and ACT question of the day.
When studying for the SAT and ACT, take at least one full-length practice test. Taking a full test will help you better manage your time and will give you the best idea of what it will be like on test day. If you can, gather some friends and have a teacher or parent proctor your full practice test for the best practice!
Take the PSAT and then use personalized test prep! In the fall, all IPS sophomores and juniors take the PSAT and can use their results to set-up a test prep plan by linking their College Board account to Khan Academy https://signup.collegeboard.org/official-sat-practice/. IPS students can also access free, personalized SAT test prep in their Naviance Family Connection account!