Students applying to American universities have to submit test scores to show they have achieved proficient levels of education. The major tests are the SAT, ACT and TOEFL exams.
Standardized tests help universities assess and compare the students' abilities. Colleges use the results to determine if a student academic department or program at the school.
If you get test anxiety and do not perform to the best of your abilities on standardized tests, know that you can take them again. Also, the scores are one of many elements in the college application process. Universities also look at your Common App, essays, letters of recommendation, résumés, interviews, transcripts and grade-point average (GPA) to determine admission.
But, yes, they are important, so prepare, study and sleep the night before the test.
Here is what you need to know about the PSAT and SAT.
If you want to see how well you might test on the SAT without the commitment, you should take the PSAT.
PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT. It's a great practice for the SAT and ACT and a good starting point on the college application journey. The PSAT does not negatively affect your college admissions because it does not get sent to your application schools. In fact, the PSAT not only helps you see where you need to improve in each section but also determines who qualifies for the National Merit Scholarship.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarship opportunities. Students can participate in this program and have a chance of winning a chunk of change by taking the PSAT and scoring in the highest percentiles. Approximately 50,000 students out of the 1.4 million juniors who take the PSAT each year qualify for National Merit recognition. This is based on how high they scored on the PSAT, according to the Princeton Review. For more information about requirements and eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship for non-citizens, look here.
Typically, high school sophomores and juniors take the PSAT in the fall. The 2016 PSAT dates were in October and Wednesday, Nov. 2. Unlike the SAT, you cannot register online for the PSAT online. Instead, to find out when your school is scheduled to take the PSAT and how to register, reach out to your guidance department. If your school does not administrate the PSAT use College Board's search tool to find a high school near you that does.
If are on the fence of taking the PSAT or not taking the PSAT, take the PSAT. Even if you do not qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, the test itself is great practice for improving your critical thinking and multiple choice skills. Your scores also are very valuable because they give you a general idea on how well you might do on the SAT and help you decide which schools you should apply.
What does the SAT test?
As of March 2016, the SAT has two required sections and one optional essay. The first section is evidenced-based reading that will last 65 minutes and writing and language that will last 35 minutes. The second is math that will last 80 minutes. Finally, there is an optional essay section that is 50 minutes. The results for the essay portion are reported separately, make sure you check if the schools you are applying to require the essay. In total, the SAT should take three hours and 50 minutes.
How is it scored?
A perfect SAT score is 1600. Each section (math and reading/writing) are scored on a range of 200 to 800. The good thing about the SAT is that there is no penalty for guessing. Make your best guess for each question because you only earn points for questions you answer correctly, according to the College Board.
If you have taken the new SAT starting March 2016, you can use this site to help you understand what your scores mean and if they rank high enough to help you get into your dream school. This site will help you find school?s SAT score ranges and convert the new SAT score to the old SAT scale.
When can I take the SAT?
The SAT is offered nationally seven times a year. Below are this year?s SAT test dates.
To register for an upcoming test date, go online to the College Board website or register by mail using the registration form found in College Board?s "The Student Registration Guide for the SAT." You can find this form in your guidance office at school, or can request one free of charge by calling ETS at +1 (609) 771-7600.
The cost for the exam and the optional essay portion is $54.50, and $43 without the essay. Some schools waive the fee for students unable to afford the exam, so be in touch with your guidance department.
Always be prepared for your tests. Take advantage of free practice tests found online, purchase workbooks to improve your test taking skills or even find prep courses taught by local teachers. Remember to get a good nights sleep, eat a balanced breakfast and bring extra pencils to your testing center.
And remember, it's only a test it does not define who you are or your intelligence.
Have you taken SAT? ACT? TOEFL? What advice do you have for others? Please leave a comment below and on our Facebook page.