4 – College Admission Tests

There are two separate testing agencies that provide standardized examinations used by colleges and universities for admission and placement purposes. The first, and probably most widely used is the College Board Educational Testing Services of Princeton, New Jersey. The College Board produces the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT ) and the subject tests Along with a variety of other examinations i.e., PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)/NMSQT, medical and law boards and Advanced Placement Exams. The second testing agency is the American College Testing program (ACT) which is based in Iowa City, Iowa.

A brief explanation of college admission tests follows:



Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test: the PSAT was designed to provide a practice test for juniors in October of grade 11 as a warm-up or preparation for the SAT. The scores from the PSAT / NMSQT are used in the annual selection of National Merit Scholarship winners. A student’s NMSQT selection Index Score is determined by adding the verbal score, the math score, and the writing score. The PSAT scores are reported in the range of 20 (low) to 80 (high).



Scholastic Aptitude Test (alias the “College Board”) is a test of verbal, writing skills and mathematical reasoning. The exam provides a standard measure of ability for college admission officers in comparing students from different high schools from across the country. The scores on this multiple-choice examination range from a low of 200 to a high of 800 for each of the 3 sections. This exam is not an intelligence test. Before you take the SAT, you should read and study the guidebook, Taking the SAT, available in the guidance office.


SAT Subject Tests

Subject Tests-These tests are one hour exams given in different specific areas such as Biology, English Composition, Mathematics Level 1 or Level 2, Chemistry, American History, European History, French, German, Spanish and other subject areas. Scores on these exams range from 200-800 (similar to the SAT). A student may take one, two, or three tests (maximum of three tests) per exam date).

NOTE: Not all students applying to college need to take the Subject tests. However, many selective colleges (i.e. RPI, MIT, Boston University, Cornell University, Dartmouth, etc.) do require certain achievement tests. Be sure to check with the individual college’s admissions office to be certain if achievement exams are required and if so, which ones.



The American College Testing program is a three-hour achievement battery designed to measure performance in four broadly based subject areas; English Usage, Mathematics, Social Studies, Reading, and Natural Sciences Reading. Score results are reported for each of the four areas tested, ranging from 1-36, plus a composite score for the overall performance. A writing component is now available if you want.

As sophomores, students are encouraged to take the PLAN (Preliminary ACT) and as juniors, were urged to take the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test).

You must apply to take these exams. Registration materials are available in the Guidance Office.

Be careful not to miss the closing dates for registration. It will be costly if you do. The exams and important dates can be found by clicking on TEST DATES.

If you are not happy with your SAT results this year, you may re-take the exam in October, November or December of your senior year. You may also want to consider taking a SAT preparation course offered at Troy High School in the night school during the fall semester. (See the Adult Continuing and Community Education brochure.)