College Entrance Exams
The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by the College Board and cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the United States. Approximately 3.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT each Octover. The exam is an officially released version of a previously administered SAT exam. The exam is scored from 20-80 for each of the three parts, Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing. It is administered to all Wake County sophomores, and to freshmen and juniors who choose to register for the exam. The PSAT itself has NO bearing on college admissions. So, why take it?
- College Readiness and College Access
The PSAT/NMSQT assesses reading, math, and writing skills; provides excellent practice for the SAT; and connects students to scholarships and personalized online tools.
- Scholarship Opportunities
Students in 11th grade may be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program and other programs that use PSAT/NMSQT scores.
- SAT Advantage
The PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT have the same format and evaluate the same skills. PSAT/NMSQT students also get a custom SAT study plan based on their results.
- Feedback on Strengths and Weaknesses
After the test, students receive feedback on how ready they are for college and access to tools that help them improve.
- AP PotentialTM
PSAT/NMSQT scores tell students and educators how likely students are to succeed in AP courses and on AP Exams.
- Online College Planning
Students get free access to My College QuickStartTM. Features include an interactive score report, a personality test, major and career suggestions, and a starter list of colleges.
- College Connection
Students who opt in on test day receive free information about admission and financial aid from colleges, universities, and scholarship programs that are interested in them.
- Testing Twice
Students who take the PSAT/NMSQT in 10th grade or lower benefit from early feedback on their skills. Students can look at their percentiles to see how well their scores compare to the scores of 10th grade test-takers. Schools that test students at an earlier age have more time to act on PSAT/NMSQT data.
Taking the PSAT/NMSQT again, in 11th grade, gives students a fresh skills assessment and a measure of their progress, as well as the chance to compete for scholarships. And research shows that students in U.S. schools who take the PSAT/NMSQT in 10th and 11th grades score, on average, 189 points higher on the SAT than students who do not.
ACTThe ACT (originally American College Testing program) is an exam typically used in the western region of the United States, and contains four subtests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The Writing section is optional, but students are highly encourage to complete that section. The test scores range from 1 to 36, with a final composite score ranging from 1 to 36.
Tests are typically administered on a Saturday morning, and are NOT administered at every high school. You can take the exam as many times as you wish, and most schools will accept your highest individual score in each area, even if they are on different test dates.
Here are the ACT instructions for students who took the ACT junior year at GMHS and want those scores sent to colleges:
Go to www.actstudent.org.
Click on "Sign up/Log in"
Click "Create Account"
Answer the two questions: "Have you registered for the ACT before?" (NO) and "Have you taken the ACT before?"(YES) Click "Continue."
Complete the brief form including entering the email address you will keep and check. Click "Continue."
Enter in the student's social security number OR ACT ID number (NO DASHES). This number is on their ACT report from last year. It's at the top of the form, listed under the birthday, and says "ID-XX-XX-XXXX" **This step is how the student accesses last year's scores as opposed to creating a new account w no score report history.**
From there, the student will create a username and a password will be emailed to him/her. He/She will go to their email, get the password, go back to the website, and create a new password. 8. Then, the student can view last year's ACT, select colleges to send it to, etc. The current cost the score report is $11 per school/report sent.
SATThe SAT is one mechanism used by colleges to determine your readiness for success at their school. Starting in March 2016, the SAT has two parts, Evidence-based Reading & Writing and Mathematics, and each has a minimum score of 200, with a maximum score of 800. The Essay section is option, but students are highly encouraged to complete this section. Tests are typically administered on a Saturday morning, and are NOT administered at every high school. You can take the exam as many times as you wish, and most schools will accept your highest individual score in each area, even if they are on different test dates. Typically, students do not perform significantly better on the SAT after the third attempt unless they have made some dedicated effort to prepare. If you wish to attend a 4-year college or university that uses the SAT for admission, it is a good idea to take it at least twice, once during your junior year and early in senior year. Community colleges and two year schools do not typically use the SAT for admissions, but will use them for placement if you have taken them. Test scores must be sent directly to the requesting college or university from College Board.
ACT vs. SATThe SAT and ACT are two competing examinations for college entrance. The SAT is typically used in the eastern half of the country, and the ACT is typically used in the western half. This is more because of where their headquarters are located than for any other reason. Most schools will accept either an SAT or an ACT score BUT do not take that for granted! Check with the school you are considering to see what they want, either via the school's website, or by calling the school's admissions department.
SAT vs. ACT Comparison
SAT/ACT Concordance (score comparison)