In addition to grades and extra-curricular activities, most colleges require that you take either the ACT, SAT or both. These standardized assessment tests help admissions officers to predict your academic performance for your first year in college. Depending on your college, your ACT or SAT score(s) could affect your acceptance into that college, and may even help you to qualify for financial aid. Keep in mind that you must register to take these tests, and there are fees. Check with your guidance counselor for upcoming dates and current fees. Also, remember that if you need your score by a certain date to qualify for a financial aid program and/or per a college’s requirements, be sure to schedule your test accordingly.
In addition to the ACT and SAT, if you are an Illinois public high school student, you will be required to take the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE). One of the components of the PSAE is the ACT exam, so in most cases, taking the PSAE eliminates the need to take a separate ACT.
Preparing for a standardized test may seem difficult, so some high schools offer test-prep classes at no charge, or for a minimal fee. Get a head start by clicking here for useful tips on how to prepare for your test(s).
If you take the test and are not pleased with the results, you can take the test again to try to get a better score. Refer to your college’s admissions criteria to find the minimum scores considered.
Prairie State Achievement Examination
The Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) is a standardized exam given by the Illinois State Board of Education. It is a free, mandatory exam for most Illinois public high school students to be taken the second semester of their junior year. The test measures the achievement of 11th grade students as compared to the Illinois Learning Standards for reading, mathematics, science and writing. As discussed above, because one of the components of the PSAE is the ACT exam, it's likely that taking the PSAE will eliminate the need to take a separate ACT. Check with your high school counselor to find out if you’ll be taking this test. Click here to learn more about the PSAE.
The ACT (American College Testing) assessment tests general education development. The test is content-based, focusing on English, math, reading and science reasoning and an optional writing test. A perfect score on the test is 36. To register for the ACT, sign up online at actstudent.org, get an application from your guidance counselor, or call ACT at 319-337-1270 to have one sent. The deadline for registration is around five weeks before each test date. Be sure to take a few #2 (HB) pencils, a calculator and a watch. You are also required to have verification of registration, and a valid photo I.D. Click here for more test-taking tips. Visit actstudent.org for current fees and dates for the ACT.
The PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test) is given as a practice test for the SAT. These two tests are similar in types of questions, though the PSAT is much shorter. In addition to providing good practice for the latter test, the PSAT may also be beneficial when applying for scholarships during your junior year in high school—as it could determine your eligibility. And although the results of the test don’t affect your admission to college, they will be sent to colleges who may then add your name to their mailing lists to send you helpful college-planning information. Click here for good test-taking tips to help you prepare for the PSAT. And visit collegeboard.com for current fees and dates.
The SAT measures your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, with sections focused on math, critical reading and writing. A perfect score on the test is 2400. To register for the SAT, sign up online at collegeboard.com, get an application from your guidance counselor, or call the Education Testing Service at 609-771-7600 to have one sent. The deadline for registration is around five weeks before each test date. Be sure to take a few #2 (HB) pencils, a calculator and a watch. You are also required to have verification of registration, and a valid photo I.D. Click here for more test-taking tips. Visit collegeboard.com for current fees and dates for the SAT.