What Can My Child do to Prepare Academically for College?
Many of the courses recommended for college-bound students (such as geometry and rigorous English courses) are also essential preparation for the college entrance examinations -- the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) [Footnote: The general SAT test is also referred to as the SAT I to distinguish it from the SAT subject test, which is also called the SAT II.] or the ACT Assessment. The SAT measures verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities. The ACT Assessment measures English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning abilities. Students applying to colleges in the East and West usually take the SAT exam. Students applying to schools in the South and Midwest often take the ACT; however, students should check the admission requirements at each school to which they are applying.
Usually, the tests are offered in the junior and senior years of high school and can be taken more than once if a student wishes to try to improve his or her score. Students can get books at libraries or bookstores to help them to prepare for all of the tests. Some of these books are listed at the back of this resource book. In addition, some private organizations and companies offer courses that help students prepare for these exams.
Many schools offer the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) to their students. This practice test helps students prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). The PSAT is usually administered to tenth or eleventh grade students. A student who does well on this test and who meets many other academic performance criteria may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. You and your child can find out more about the PSAT/NMSQT and the National Merit Scholarship Program by talking to your child's guidance counselor or by calling or writing to the number or address provided in the last section of this guide.
Some colleges also require that an applicant take one or more SAT subject tests in major areas of study. These tests are also known as SAT II tests. SAT II subject tests are offered in many areas of study including English, mathematics, many sciences, history, and foreign languages. A subject test measures the extent of a student's knowledge of a particular subject. It is a good idea for a student to consult a guidance counselor about this early in high school; often the best time to take an SAT subject test is right after the student has taken a course in that subject. For example, many students take the SAT biology test right after they have completed a course in biology. This could mean that your child would take his or her first SAT subject test as a freshman or sophomore in high school.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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