College Entrance Exams – What You Need to Know
GRB Counseling Office, College Series
What is a college entrance exam?
To be admitted to most 4-year colleges and some 2-year colleges, applicants must take
and submit the results of a college entrance exam, a standardized test that allows colleges
to compare student achievement among a public and private school settings across the
state and country. Two major companies produce tests for this purpose. The tests are
called the SAT and the ACT.
Should I plan to take a college entrance exam?
If you plan to apply to any 4-year college or some 2-year junior colleges, you should take
a college entrance exam. If you plan to apply only to community colleges, you may not
be required to take a college entrance exam, but will instead be required to take college
administered “placement exams” to determine your appropriate course entry level.
When should I take a college entrance exam?
Tests are offered several times at various locations throughout the school year beginning
in October and ending in June. Both the ACT and SAT exams are given at G. Ray
Bodley High School in June, October and/or December. It is recommended that college
entrance exams be taken in the spring of the junior year, with retakes for those who want
them in the fall of the senior year. Test dates and registration deadlines are posted on the
ACT and SAT web pages and in the Guidance Office.
Which exam should I take?
Taking both exams is recommended. Most colleges will accept either exam and will
consider the highest score of the two. The tests include different subject areas, so it is
advisable to take both.
Is there a cost?
There is a cost associated with both exams. There are also substantial late fees for
missing a registration deadline. Some students who meet the income guidelines (free or
reduced lunch, for example) may be eligible for a no-cost fee waiver.
How do I register for a college entrance exam?
Online registration is recommended by both SAT and ACT. You may link to both
through our GRB Guidance website at:
Can I get testing accommodations if I have an IEP?
Students with Individual Education Plans (IEP) who wish to use their testing
accommodations must contact Mrs. Vickery in Room 115 to submit paperwork to the
respective agencies well in advance of the testing date.
Should I take the ACT Plus Writing?
The ACT offers two options: “no writing” and “plus writing.” If you are taking ONLY
the ACT, you should take the ACT Plus Writing. If, however, you are also taking the
SAT, which includes a mandatory writing section, you may take the ACT without
writing, as the college will have a writing sample from your SAT.
Should I register for the SAT Reasoning Test or the SAT Subject Tests?
Sign up for the SAT Reasoning Test. It is the test that most colleges and universities use
to consider you for acceptance. Some elite colleges and universities may also want you
to take the SAT Subject Tests, which are one-hour long tests focused on individual
subjects such as literature, calculus or biology. You need not take the Subject Tests
unless your college requires it.
What should I do to prepare for the exams?
Taking challenging course work and studying hard are two of the best ways to prepare.
You want to continually improve your reading, writing and math skills. There are also
many good online resources at the ACT and SAT websites and others. Taking practice
tests and reading about tips in the test prep books available in the guidance office career
room or local bookstores are good strategies. You may also want to consider taking an
SAT prep course.
What do I need to remember on test day?
Bring your photo ID, admission ticket, approved calculator, two no. 2 pencils and a soft
eraser. Get a good night’s rest and eat a normal breakfast before testing. Plan to arrive
early so you don’t feel stressed before the test. If you bring a cell phone, be aware that
you may not use it during the test or during breaks. If it sounds, or if you use it, you can
be dismissed from the test and your scores voided. You may also want a small snack
during a break.
Once I take the exams, how do colleges get my scores?
There are two important things to do when registering. First, on the registration form you
will have the option of naming up to four colleges that you would like to receive your
scores for no additional cost. Second, you will be prompted to fill in a six-digit code that
identifies you as a student of G. Ray Bodley High School. That code number is 332020
and can be found using the search system provided with online registration as well as on
the guidance website. It is to your advantage to assure that this step is completed
properly. Doing so will supply the guidance office with a copy of your results to add to
your transcript. Most colleges will consider your scores “official” if they are included on
your transcript, and you can avoid the fees required to send additional scores.
How do I read my scores?
It is important to remember that the scores you receive are ranking scores that show how
performed in comparison to other test takers.
The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36 with four tests in the areas of English, math,
reading and science. You will receive a scale score (1-36) for each of the four tests and a
composite score that averages all four. If you opted for ACT Plus Writing, you will also
receive a score for that.
The SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800 on each of three sections – critical reading, math
and writing. Most colleges are using only the critical reading and math scores in
determining student acceptance, while the writing score is used for placement or research.
More colleges may begin using the writing score for acceptance purposes as they collect
and analyze data, so know the policy of you college choices.
What if I get stuck or have questions?
Your school counselor stands ready to assist you.