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Admissions tests for all: Some states now require all students in grade 11 to take the ACT or SAT to encourage them to think about going to college.
PSAT: While students typically take the SAT and ACT the junior year in high school, they get a preview by taking the PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, in the sophomore year or before. A high score qualifies students for a National Merit or other scholarship.
The SAT in middle school? Thousands of children in seventh and eighth grades take the SAT, and it can be valuable for academically gifted children who want to apply to summer programs such as the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. But critics caution that for most kids, offering test-prep classes in middle school is worsening what's become known as the "college arms race" to get into prestigious colleges.
Scores on college admissions tests taken before ninth grade don't count. It's important for parents to consider that these are tests designed to assess skills most middle school students have yet to master and the time spent preparing for them comes at the expense of reading and other interests - sports, music and community service - that may inspire your student and help him get into the college of his choice.
By GreatSchools Staff
The College Board administers the Advanced Placement program in which students do college-level work in high school and have the opportunity to get college credit for it. If your student takes an AP course, his teacher will be using a lesson plan developed by College Board and in May will take the same three-hour test in that subject as other students across the nation.
Getting a 3 or above on the AP exams' five-point scale is like getting a C or better in a college course. But that doesn't necessarily mean a student will get college credit for getting a 3 or even a 4. As AP classes have become more popular, some college officials have questioned their rigor. Many are making it harder for students to get college credit.
Some research shows that AP classes are worth the extra work whether or not a student gets college credit: Students who get good grades on AP exams do better in college. But other researchers say the students who take AP exams would succeed in college anyway because they are motivated and academically prepared before they ever walk into an AP classroom.
Ask your child's counselor how you can help him prepare for challenging classes, such as AP courses.
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