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Which test is which? A guide for parents of tweens and teens

Page 5 of 5

By GreatSchools Staff

International Baccalaureate (IB) tests

The IB program is a series of highly challenging courses and exams offered at fewer than 700 schools in the United States. It is a rigorous international program administered by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Students are given the tests worldwide in May and November.

What the results mean

Students who successfully complete this rigorous program receive a diploma that is widely recognized. Many universities consider IB courses to be college level and will give students college credit for successfully completing them.

Questions parents should ask

Learn more about the IB program and if your school doesn't already offer it and you think it's right for your school, ask your school site council or high school principal how you can help work toward that goal.

College admissions tests

Many colleges require applicants to take either the SAT or the ACT. These tests measure reading, writing and math skills that students have learned throughout their education as a means of predicting how well they will do in college. A number of colleges also require applicants to take up to three SAT subject tests. While the SAT was created as an aptitude test, the subject tests were designed to measure achievement in a particular subject.

What the results show

Because high schools vary widely in their rigor, these tests give admissions officers a way to compare students nationally. But SAT and ACT scores have been shown to be less important predictors of college success than a student's high school grades and whether he completed challenging classes in core subjects. An SAT and ACT test score is only one factor colleges use in making admissions decisions, and a small but growing number of colleges have dropped the requirement to submit them.

Questions parents should ask

Ask the counselor what tests are required by the colleges on your child's list and when is the best time to take them. Ask about test fees and if they are beyond your budget, ask the counselor if financial aid is available to help. Your student should become familiar with the format of the admissions test she plans to take. Learn more about how your child can be prepared by reading Understanding College Admissions Tests and SAT or ACT: How to Help Your Child Get Ready.

Comments from readers

"Hello my daughter is in 10th grade and struggles with testing in school, she does all her work, she says she studies, but the scores on her test don't show this at all. Please if you can give us some advise as to what we should do to help our daughter with testing skills we would appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thank you Brenda Stemwell"
"Thank you for a succinct an easy to understand explanation of the myriad tests facing my family. I feel more prepared to guide my two sons as we navigate public and private school requirements. My husband and I plan to put this information to good use. It is unfortunate that excellent educational options are difficult to access in DeKalb County GA. "