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College Admissions Testing

General Information

Standardized tests make it possible for colleges and universities to compare and evaluate prospective students. No college uses test scores exclusively to accept students, however, standardized tests are certainly an important part of college admissions.  The following is useful information about the various types of standards tests.


The American College Test is a standardized exam including four sections: English, reading, mathematics, and science reasoning. Each section is scored separately and a composite is then determined. The composite scores range from 1 to 36 with the National average is a composite of 21. Test sites are available throughout the area and tests are offered in October, December, February, April, and June. It is the student’s responsibility to sign up and pay for the ACT. Applications are available in the Guidance Office. The ACT is required by most Missouri colleges and is important for determining state-funded scholarships such as Bright Flight. Starting in 2005, the ACT has an optional writing component. Check with the colleges and universities you are applying to for specific information about the writing section requirements.


Advanced Placement tests are three-hour exams measuring mastery of a predefined curriculum in a single subject area and are given in May at school. They are scored from 1 to 5 and cost about $80 each. Normally a 4 or 5 corresponds to an A in a college class; a 3 a B; a 2 a C; and a 1 indicates little mastery. Often, colleges will give course credit toward graduation for scores of 4 or 5 in some subject areas.


The PLAN is an abbreviated American College Test (ACT). The test is administered to all tenth graders in the fall at school and has four sections: English (grammar and writing), Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning. The test also includes an interest inventory and can provide some potential career possibilities.


The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is administered in October at school to juniors and is an abbreviated form of the SAT. It measures critical reading, math problem-solving, and writing skills and can be used as an indicator of future success on the SAT. Unless the student receives a high score, the PSAT results are not placed on the transcript. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses the PSAT results as an initial screening for those who wish to be considered for National Merit recognition. The top half of one percent of students in each state are designated as semifinalists. It is helpful to identify yourself as a member of a minority on this test because there are separate competitions for students of color.  Results are available in December.


The Scholastic Aptitude Test is given at various sites on Saturdays, generally every five weeks. The Guidance Office has dates posted and sign-up forms. It is up to the student to sign up and pay the fees. Registering on line is a convenient option, but a major credit card is needed. The scores are reported to the student, the high school, and any colleges chosen. It is important to have test results sent directly to the college as they require an official copy before admission can be finalized. The SAT now includes a writing component.

SAT - Subject Test

SAT Subject Tests are one hour tests which measure achievement in specific subject areas.  They are given at the same time as the SAT I so they cannot be taken on the same day. Some colleges require the tests for admission particularly the selective colleges. Check with the individual colleges and the Guidance Office for more information.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language is for international students whose native language is not English. Check with the Guidance Office for further information.

In Summary

  • Prepare for college entrance exams by taking practice exams. DON’T GO IN COLD.
  • Be prepared to retake college entrance exams. (Statistically your scores will probably increase).
  • Check to see which test (SAT I or ACT) is required at colleges of interest to you.