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College Admission Testing

College Admissions Testing Information




Admission testing is generally required for those students that are applying to a four year college or university directly out of high school. The minimum requirement is generally the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT. Most colleges will accept either one. Highly competitive schools or majors may also require or highly recommend SAT Subject Tests.


ACT or ACT Plus Writing Option: Students have the option to choose either the ACT Assessment or the ACT Assessment Plus Writing. Students can check the website of their college of interest to determine if they require the writing section. The ACT Plus Writing consists of the following:


75 multiple–choice questions

45 minute Test

Tests usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills


60 multiple–choice questions

60 minute Test

Emphasis on Geometry, with some Algebra and Trigonometry


40 multiple–choice questions

35 minute Test

Passages include prose fiction, social studies, humanities, and natural sciences


40 multiple–choice questions

35 minute Test

Questions on science-based passages


1 optional essay

30 minute Test

Website to register: www.act.org

Test Prep: http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/

SAT Reasoning Test

The SAT Reasoning Test consists of the following:

Critical Reading

67 multiple–choice questions

70 minute Test

Tests critical reading, diction, and vocabulary

Passage reading

Sentence completion




54 questions (44 multiple–choice and 10 grid in)

70 minutes (two 25 minutes sections and one 20 minute section)

Tests basic arithmetic, Algebra I & II, and Geometry


49 multiple–choice questions, 1 essay question

60 minutes (one 25 minute section, one 10 minute section, and one 25 minute essay)

Tests ability to identify sentence errors, improving sentences, improving paragraphs

Website to register: http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/

Test prep: http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/

SAT Subject Tests:

The SAT Subject Tests are recommended for the U.C. system and other highly competitive universities and majors. These tests are also administered by the College Board. They measure knowledge and skills in particular subjects. Students should take at least two subjects tests in two different subject areas, such as history, science, social science, or foreign language. Students should consider taking the SAT Subject Test soon after completion of that subject, e.g. take the SAT Subject Test in U.S. History at the end of the 11th grade. There are 20 different subject tests.

Website to register: http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/

Test prep: http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-subject-test-preparation


A shorter version of the ACT designed for 10th grade students to practice the ACT and get early skills and vocational information. Generally, the PLAN is in the first week of November.


A shorter version of the SAT targeted for 10th and 11th grade students to practice taking college admissions tests. Students who take it in the 10th grade must then take it in the 11th grade to be considered for the National Merit Scholarship. Generally, the PSAT is in the second week of October.


9th Grade: No testing recommended

10th Grade:PSAT - If possible, we recommend students take the PSAT in the 10th grade and then repeat it in the 11th grade.

SAT Subject Tests – Possibly for students who are strong in Biology and/or Chemistry and are

considering using Biology and/or Chemistry as one of their subject tests.

11th Grade: Fall: PSAT - Given in October. 11th graders that take the PSAT, will be in the running for the National Merit Scholarship. Results are given to students by the school counselor.

Spring: ACT, SAT Reasoning Test and/or SAT Subject Tests for those students wishing to post an early score and to allow a chance to retake in fall of 12th grade. This is the recommended time for taking the SAT Subject Test in U.S. History.

12th Grade: Students planning to apply directly to a 4 year college need to test by December. Some highly competitive universities (including Cal Poly SLO and CSU San Diego), require that testing be completed by October of the senior year.