Though a few institutions have downplayed the importance of test scores and others have eliminated test requirements entirely, they are in the minority. Standardized testing remains an important factor in admission decisions, especially at most highly selective colleges and universities. It is essential for you, therefore, to understand the purpose of testing in the admission process while keeping its role in perspective. Here are descriptions of the different tests, along with guidelines for registering and reporting scores and some comments on test preparation.

Test Descriptions & Info

PSAT/NMSQT - Preliminary SAT/National Merit Qualifying Test

LA gives this test twice, once in a student's sophomore year and then again in the junior year. It has the same format as the SAT Reasoning Test and is intended to be used for practice and as a predictor of your possible SAT scores. Your PSAT scores are not sent to colleges, but you may receive mail from colleges as a result of your taking the PSAT. A very small number of high-scoring juniors may be named National Merit Scholarship finalists, semi-finalists, or commended scholar. Finalists, very few in number nationally, may be awarded scholarships by some colleges.

SAT Reasoning Test

Given by the College Board, the SAT is a three-hour, forty-five minute test in three sections: critical reading, mathematics, and writing; this test is designed to measure the verbal and mathematical reasoning ability you have developed through your years of school. Most colleges, with notable exceptions, require the SAT (or the ACT, a similar test described below) as part of the application process. Most students take the SAT at least twice, during their junior and senior years.The website to register for the SAT Reasoning Test is www.collegeboard.org. Lawrence Academy’s school code is 220940 and our test center number is 22404.

SAT Subject Tests

Subject Tests, as the name implies, are one-hour tests measuring your knowledge of specific subject areas. Testing dates are the same as for the SAT, though not all subjects are available on every date. Colleges’ Subject Test requirements vary widely, from none to three; some institutions, and certain majors such as engineering, have very specific subject requirements. While Lawrence Academy does not require students to take Subject Tests, we encourage students to consider taking the Math Level I at the end of Math 3, plus one or two others in the junior year or early in the senior year—unless you are certain early in the process that none of the colleges to which you plan to apply require Subject Tests. A junior-year conversation with your counselor about which Subject Tests to take is essential! The website to resister for SAT Subject Tests is www.collegeboard.org. Lawrence Academy’s schools code is 220940 and our test center number is 22404.

ACT (American College Test)

Colleges use the ACT, which is basically a competitor of the SAT, the same way they use the SAT and Subject Tests: to help predict a student’s chances for success at their institution. Its design, however, is quite different from the SAT, both in structure and in terms of what it measures. In simple terms, the SAT measures reasoning ability, while the ACT assesses what the student has learned in the classroom. The ACT, which lasts three hours, is comprised of four tests: English, mathematics, reading and science. An optional fifth section, writing, adds 30 minutes to the testing time. The ACT is given at Lawrence Academy in December and February, and at other local test centers on several additional dates. The Lawrence Academy College Counseling Office strongly recommends that every student take the ACT. For several reasons, some students do better on the ACT than on the SAT and Subject Tests. Virtually all colleges will accept either SAT or ACT scores. In most cases, the ACT (with writing) can substitute for both the SAT and the Subject Tests; some schools, however, require the Subject Tests of students who submit the ACT. Again, talk with your counselor and do some careful research! The website to resister for the ACT is www.actstudent.org. Lawrence Academy’s schools code is 220940 and our test center number is 199460.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Used to evaluate English proficiency, the TOEFL is required by most American colleges of students whose native language is not English. Students who did not learn English as a first language or in whose home English is generally not spoken should also take it. Students usually take the TOEFL in addition to the ACT or SAT and Subject Tests; it can be taken at Lawrence Academy. The website for the TOEFL is www.ETS.org/toefl.

Other Helpful Testing Links

Test Dates & Registration Deadlines

To download the 2020-2021 Test Dates and Registration Deadlines PDF click here.

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