Admissions Tests

College Admission Testing 101

A special thanks to Louise McClain, Head Counselor at Granite Hills High School for this information.

Where to Begin: Words of Advice
  • Plan ahead and register early online.
  • Take practice timed tests and/or a test prep class.
  • Do all testing in spring of the junior year (senior year is for damage control).
  • Be rested and positive on test day.
  • Arrive early to the test site and have a photo ID.

SAT® Reasoning Test
  • NOTE: The SAT is changing, beginning in the Spring of 2016 (visit for more information on the new SAT)
  • Register online at
  • Fee waivers are available for low-income students.
  • SAT is a reasoning test with three sections: critical reading, math, writing.
  • Each section is scored 200–800 to equal a perfect score of 2400.
  • Critical Reading: short and long passages from natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and literary fiction.
  • Math: up to Algebra II; calculator is allowed.
  • Writing: 25-minute persuasive essay; readers look for length, neatness, organization, opinion stated early, conclusion.
  • PSAT® in grades 10 and 11 is good practice.

ACT: The “Other” Admission Test
  • Register online at
  • Fee waivers are available for low-income students.
  • A curricular test with four parts and an optional writing test that is taken last.
  • No penalty for guessing.
  • A four-part test: reading, math, English, scientific reasoning.
  • Reading: comprehension and reasoning.
  • Math: up to trigonometry; calculator is allowed.
  • English: grammar and usage.
  • Scientific reasoning: interpretation and problem-solving skills.
  • Score: 1–36 on each subtest and a composite (average score).
  • Writing: persuasive essay with possible solutions given.
  • In-depth interest inventory.
  • ASPIRE® test in grade 10 is good practice.

SAT® Subject Test
  • Additional tests required by some selective universities
  • Recommended by UC schools for selected majors.
  • Choices: history, English literature, math, laboratory science, foreign language.
  • Student can take one, two, or three tests at any sitting.
  • Take subjects tests when you complete an advanced course.