College Admissions Tests
The ACT and SAT are the two widely used standardized tests used as a component of 4-yr college admissions decisions in the United States. Some schools may also require SAT Subject Tests - this should be verified with individual schools, but if any schools you're considering require SAT Subject Tests, then it could be beneficial to take the tests soon after you've completed the recommended classes.
Generally, schools accept results from either test and do not indicate a preference for one test over the other. There are agreed-upon concordance tables which schools use to compare SAT and ACT results, and schools typically use students' highest score from either test in their decision.
There are some differences between the two tests. The ACT has a Science Reasoning section. The Math sections touch on slightly different materials beyond Math 3. The SAT technically has more time per question.
Sending scores to 4-yr schools
4-yr schools require an official copy of your test scores, which must be sent to the school directly from the ACT or the College Board. You must list schools as score recipients when you register for the test, or you'll have to pay an additional fee to send additional score reports later.
- Should I take the ACT/SAT with the essay? If and how 4-yr schools utilize the essay score is school-specific. We recommend taking the essay section, in case you need it, but you can verify with individual schools whether or not and how they would use it.
- What is superscoring? Some schools will combine your highest section scores from different test administrations. This is also school-specific, and you should verify with individual schools.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a timed aptitude test required for military enrollment which helps to determine what types of military service you qualify for. It also has a Career Exploration component that could be helpful for any student, regardless of interest in military service.
The ASVAB is administered at CHS and other CHCCS high schools at different points throughout the year. Pay attention to the announcements or speak with the Career Development Coordinator, Ms. Coley, or your counselor, if you are interested in finding out more.
Three tests will be administered by CHS to all students (free of charge, during the school day, families do not need to sign up independently):
- 10th Grade - Pre-ACT in mid-October
- 11th Grade - Pre-SAT in mid-October
- 11th Grade - ACT in late-February/early-March
Other than these three, students and families will need to register to test on their own: ACT Information, Test Dates and Deadlines, and Registration; SAT Test Dates and Deadlines; SAT Information and Registration. If a student qualifies for free or reduced lunch, or certain other criteria, then they may qualify for a fee waiver for the ACT or SAT. Please discuss this with your counselor, if you think you might qualify.
If your student has any testing accommodations via a 504 Plan or IEP, please work with the case manager to ensure those accommodations are applied for on these tests. It is not guaranteed that the ACT or College Board (SAT) will permit the same accommodations on these tests.
Suggested Testing Timeline*
*This is a very individualized conversation for each student, and these are loose, minimum suggestions.
We know that your student will take the three tests from the timeline above (Pre-ACT, PSAT, and ACT).
Generally, and at a minimum, we encourage college-bound students to also prepare for and take the full SAT by the end of their junior year. Because the SAT and ACT will have Math 3 content, we do recommend registering for the SAT after they've finished Math 3 (any time after the PSAT fall of 11th grade, for students who took Math 3 in 10th grade or earlier; or towards the end of the spring semester, for students taking Math 3 during 11th grade).
At this point, students will have, at a minimum, experience with the practice and full versions of each test (Pre-ACT, ACT, PSAT, and SAT). We encourage most students to prepare for and take at least one of the tests for at least a second time. Depending on your college admissions deadlines, you may take this test earlier in the fall of 12th grade, if considering any early notification application options, or into the winter, if applying to schools with later deadlines.
Some students may consider taking one or both tests for a 3rd time or more, although scores do tend to plateau after the first re-take.
So, at this point we have added these minimum, loose suggestions to the timeline above:
- 10th Grade - Pre-ACT in mid-October (given to all students)
- 11th Grade - Pre-SAT in mid-October (given to all students)
- 11th Grade - ACT in late-February/early-March (given to all students)
- 11th Grade - SAT by the end of the year (register independently, after the PSAT and completing or close to completing Math 3)
- 12th Grade - ACT and/or SAT for second time fall semester (register independently, base test date off of college application deadlines)
Again, some schools may also require SAT Subject Tests - this should be verified with individual schools, but if any schools you're considering require SAT Subject Tests, then it could be beneficial to take the tests soon after you've completed the recommended classes.
The best way to prepare for the ACT and SAT is to do as well as you can in your classes at CHS. Something as simple as getting extra help for Math 2 and keeping your notes could pay big dividends when you're studying for and taking these tests. The timeline of test prep really can begin as early as you want. You may not have seen some of the Math content yet if you start early, but if you have free time to dedicate to it, then we certainly encourage that.
We encourage you to exhaust all free test preparation options available. Most ACT and SAT prep will help you on either test. Both the College Board (SAT) and ACT have free resources directly linked from their sites (they will also have plenty you can pay for). Khan Academy is the official partnership with the SAT, and CFNC has some ACT test prep stuff. Magoosh offers free flashcards, The Grading Game can beef up your English/Reading/Writing skills, and Math Brain Booster is a good app. The Critical Reader is another good English/Reading/Writing resource, Erik the Red is good for Math, and Number2 and PrepFactory are also positively reviewed. Google things like "free SAT prep" or "free ACT practice test" yourself to explore more options.
Beyond online, our Media Center and Student Services also house many hard copies of review books, or you could purchase one to own yourself for relatively cheap.
Of course, there are plenty of test prep resources you can pay for as well. From big names like The Princeton Review and Kaplan, to newer, smaller, or local options, there's a lot out there. We do not endorse any paid service over another, and CHHS has a listing of some local options on their website, if you would like to peruse it.