Which test should you take?


The most common standardized tests that colleges require applicants to take are the SAT and ACT. So, which one should you take? The easiest way to find out is to simply go to the website of the college that you are interested in and review the application requirements. The college will make it very clear which test is required or it may say that either test is acceptable. The SAT is the test most frequently required by colleges and universities on the coasts of the United States, while the ACT is more commonly required by colleges in the Midwest and Central United States. Increasingly, colleges will accept either SAT or ACT scores, but you should still check for each university to which you plan to apply.

The SAT takes longer to complete than the ACT and costs more money to take. The content of the tests is slightly different and the scores for each are calculated in rather different ways. The best way to get an idea of which test you might perform better on is to simply try taking some practice tests and then scoring them to see how you do.

The PSAT and SAT

If you are going to take the SAT, then you may want to take the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) in your junior year of high school to get some idea of what your test-taking strengths and weaknesses are. It is excellent practice for taking the actual SAT and will provide you with some feedback that may help you to improve your abilities in taking standardized tests. Then, in either your junior or senior year of high school, you can register to take the SAT.

SAT Subject Tests

Many of the more selective schools recommend that applicants take several SAT Subject Tests. These are one hour tests are specific subjects like Chemistry, Literature, Mathematics and so on. Check on a college’s website to see if they require or recommend taking these tests before you register for them. Most schools that do ask students to submit SAT Subject Test scores, ask that students take between two and three tests.


If English is not your native language, then you absolutely should register to take a test of your English proficiency. Most colleges in the United States will require that international students that do not speak English as a first language take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), though some schools may have other requirements, such as the IELTS test. Check on the website of a college to find out which test of English language proficiency is required.

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