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Writing Entrance Tests For College

Entrance tests aren't very much fun. But they're a requirement and, with the right preparation and determination, they can easily be conquered. But before you can begin all of this, you'll need to understand what the tests are for and what the differences are.

What are these tests for?

Standardized entrance tests are given to help colleges decide if you're a good candidate for their school. This raises the question, "why don't they just look at my grades? Why do I have to take a test too?". The tests are given because an A given by one teacher may not be the same as an A given by another. After all, some classes are easier than others to receive good grades in. By placing every high school student on a standard, it's easier to compare them.

Standardized tests try to determine how much the student has learned in high school and how they will perform once admitted to college. These tests are important but the school never bases their decision on them alone. Consideration is also given to your GPA, class rank, essays, and extracurricular activities.

What are the various tests and their differences?

The three tests are the ACT's, SAT I's, and SAT II's. The ACT is a test given that measures your abilities in English, mathematics, science, and reading. The test is broken up into four parts and you are given a score ranging between 1 and 36, with 36 being a "perfect" score. The ACT is being accepted by more and more colleges and appears to be the standard throughout the Midwest. (Interesting fact: one of TeenAnalyst.com's founders scored a perfect 36 on his ACT's!)

The SAT's are probably the most well-known and notorious of the tests. It measures your English, mathematics, and reading abilities and you receive two scores, a verbal one and a math one, ranging from 0-800. The two numbers are added together to give you a total score ranging from 0 to 1600. Unlike the ACT's where you aren't penalized for a wrong answer, the SAT's take away a fraction of a point for each question you answer incorrectly.

The SAT II's are a little less known and aren't used as widely as the ACT's and SAT's. These tests try to measure your abilities in other areas such as writing, history, different levels of math, and so on. Some colleges require these while others don't so you should be sure to check with the colleges you're applying to in order to determine if they require them.

Tips and Tricks

1.) Register early: It's important to register early enough so you don't pass the registration deadline. If you register late, you'll be penalized by having to pay more.
2.) Choose the right test center: You'll be given a list of test centers that you can test at. They usually allow you to make up to 2 or 3 choices. Here's my suggestion: just make one choice for the test center that is closest to you. If you choose just one, you're more likely to test there. I once chose two test centers, one located about 15 minutes away and another located 1 1/2 hours away. To make a long story short, I got stuck with the further one and had to wake up at 5:00 AM and drive for an hour and a half just to take the test. It sucked.
3.) Wear layers of clothing. When you go to the test center, wear a few layers of clothing. Even if it's 80 degrees outside, throw on a sweater. You can always take it off inside if it's too warm. But if it turned out to be 60 degrees at the test center and you were wearing a t-shirt, you wouldn't be prepared. I once took the ACT's at a community college and I was wearing a t-shirt (after all, it was in the 70's outside) but the heating was broke in the classroom. Because I was so cold, I couldn't concentrate very well during the test. Don't let this happen to you.
4.) Start studying early. The exam companies will send you a sample test when you register. Take this test! It's a great way to get a feel for the real exam and prepare yourself for it. Once you take it, go over the problems you got wrong and find out why you got them wrong. It'll help you out a lot when it comes time to take the real one.
5.) Don't skip breakfast. You'll be given a few short breaks during the test but it's not enough time to sneak in a snack. So be sure to eat a good breakfast.

Hopefully now you'll be a little better prepared for these tests. I suggest you also check out CollegeBoard.com and ACT.org for more test information such as fees and dates. Good luck!


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