The Preliminary SAT (PSAT/NMSQT) provides firsthand practice for the SAT Reasoning Test and gives students the chance to enter National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarship programs. The PSAT/NMSQT measures students’ critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills, and writing skills, providing students with critical feedback concerning personal strengths and weaknesses demonstrated in standardized tests.
The PSAT is divided into two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Mathematics, totaling 2 hours and 45 minutes. The scoring scale ranges from 160–760 for each of the two section scores, combining to form a composite score between 320–1520.
Students who effectively prepare for the PSAT often score higher on subsequent standardized tests required for undergraduate and graduate level admissions. Registration is NOT required for the PSAT; many public and private high schools throughout the United States administer the PSAT to 10th and 11th grade students.
The SAT Test is a measure of critical thinking skills for college-bound high school students and is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. The 3-hour (3 hours and 50 minutes including the optional essay) SAT assesses students’ abilities to analyze and solve problems and consists of four sections comprised of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics.
Although the SAT is based on content commonly included in most high school curricula, success on this test is largely determined by mastery of test-taking skills and strategy perfected through extended exposure to each element of the test itself.
Most students take the SAT two times, but not more than three times. Individual colleges and universities will determine whether a Highest Section Score or Score Choice (a single, one-time reported score) is preferred to assess student performance. For a best Highest Section Score, students are advised to take the SAT at least twice and no more than three times. Admissions officers will take the student’s highest scores in each 800-point section to form a cumulative best score out of 1600 possible points.
The ACT is universally accepted for college admission and has recently gained popularity among many competitive colleges and universities across the country. According to ACT, this test is a curriculum-based test and not an aptitude test; it is divided into four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science, totaling 3 hours and 25 minutes, which includes a 30-minute optional essay.
Success on the ACT is largely determined by mastery of test-taking skills and strategy perfected through extended exposure to each element of the test itself despite the test’s base in content commonly included in most high school curricula. Because students need only to report their single best ACT score, the test should be taken multiple times.
The ACT includes an optional essay that is evaluated by test graders and admissions officers but not factored into any numerical score. Each section of the ACT is scored out of 36, and an average score is taken as an overall score out of 36.
High School Admissions Tests (HSATs)
Many independent and parochial high schools require High School admissions tests as part of their admissions application process. There are three different HSATs including, the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT), the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE), and the High School Placement Test (HSPT). The SSAT and ISEE are most commonly used for admissions to independent secondary schools, while the HSPT is used for admissions to parochial schools. Current trends in today’s highly competitive academic environment require that both students and parents understand the unique aspects of this level of standardized tests.
The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) consists of a multiple-choice aptitude test that measures the student’s quantitative, verbal, and reading comprehension skills, as well as a short essay that is not scored. The 2 hour and 30 minute test is administered on three levels: Elementary Level for students currently in grades 3-4, Middle Level for students currently in grades 5-7 and Upper Level for students currently in grades 8-12. The SSAT is a highly competitive nationally administered test and should be taken more than once to ensure the student’s personal best achievement. Recipient schools consider individual student’s scores to create a best composite profile for each applicant.
The Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE) is a three-hour test for admission into grades five through twelve. The ISEE has four levels: a Primary Level for entrance to grades 2-4, a Lower Level for entrance to grades 5-6, a Middle Level for entrance to grades 7-8, and an Upper Level for entrance to grades 9-12. The ISEE is a multiple-choice test that measures the student’s quantitative, verbal, and reading comprehension skills. All levels include a timed essay written in response to an assigned topic. The essay is not scored, but a copy is forwarded to the recipient schools along with the Individual Student Report. The ISEE may only be taken once within a six-month period and should not be taken as a practice test.
The HSPT is a comprehensive placement test for eighth graders for placement in the night grade and is most commonly used for parochial schools. The exam is 2 hours and 30 minutes and provides national normative measures in cognitive and basic skill areas. Please consult your local parochial school for test dates and registration.