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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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