College Entrance Exams
What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT?
The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what you have learned in school. The SAT Reasoning Test is more like an aptitude exam, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.
The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test. If you take the ACT, UC requires that you take the ACT Plus Writing.
The SAT Reasoning Test has 3 components: Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. (There are also SAT Subject Tests, usually not required for admission to colleges, but taken voluntarily to show aptitude in a given subject.) See glossary.
Many students opt to take both exams, to find out which suits them best. Counselors can provide more information about the exams.
Does it matter which SAT Subject Tests I take?
Take the tests you feel you will score the highest in. This not only depends on knowledge in that area, but also how comfortable you are with it.
Per Collegeboard, some colleges require or recommend SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT or ACT. Some also use these for course placement once you’ve arrived on campus. Depending on your performance, you may potentially fulfill basic requirements or even receive credit for introductory-level courses.
If you’re interested in particular programs of study, take Subject Tests to show colleges that you’re ready for certain majors or courses. Along with other admission credentials (your high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendation, etc.), Subject Tests help provide a complete picture of your academic background and interests.
When is the best time to take the exams?
Spring of your 11th grade year is a good time to take the exam for the first time. By the end of the junior year students have either ended or about to end their academic year and the material is till fresh in their mind. Students should take these tests no later than the last test date in December of your senior year in high school. Do your research, some schools may have an earlier deadline.
The exams can be taken in any order and you can repeat them as many times as you want.
Prepare for College Entrance Exams
Most four-year colleges and universities require high school seniors to submit scores from college entrance exams. There are three major tests that colleges may require: the ACT, the SAT Reasoning, and the SAT Subject Tests. Most colleges and universities will accept either the SAT Reasoning or the ACT.
Do I have to take all of these tests?
Well, that depends on your plans after high school-
- To be considered for admission to the University of California (UC) , you must take the SAT Reasoning OR the ACT Assessment with Writing.
- To be considered for admission to a California State University (CSU) campus, you are required to take the SAT Reasoning OR the ACT Assessment (the writing section is not required)
- The California Community Colleges (CCC) do not require college entrance exams for admission
- The required tests can vary for Private Universities and Colleges, check with the campus admissions office.
Note: Although SAT Subject Tests are no longer required for admission to the University of California, you are welcome to submit scores if you want to show mastery of a particular subject or you plan to apply for a competitive major for which your preferred campus recommends certain Subject Tests or you want to use Subject Tests to satisfy “A-G” subject requirements.