Colleges and universities sometimes require the submission of standardized test scores as part of the application process. The testing process can be stressful for students, but with information and preparation, the tests may feel more manageable.
Tests include the PSAT, the SAT, Subject Tests, the ACT, and APs. There are two major testing agencies: the College Board and ACT. The College Board administers the PSAT, the SAT, Subject Tests, and AP exams. ACT administers only the ACT test. Not all tests are appropriate or necessary for all students. Each test has its own registration and reporting procedures, so it is important to review the information provided by the individual testing agencies.
It is worth noting that more and more schools are becoming “test-optional;” in other words, students may choose whether to disclose their scores. Many schools that have adopted test-optional policies for the Class of 2021, plan to re-evaluate their testing policies for future years. The ability to self-report test scores is also gaining traction. See each school’s policy before paying a testing agency to have scores sent.
PSAT 10 (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a practice SAT test given to all Park students during the school day in the spring of their sophomore year.
PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) serves two purposes. First, it helps to prepare students for the SAT exam. Second, it gives students the opportunity to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarships.
The PSAT/NMSQT is given in October of the junior year. Park is responsible for the registration and administration of both the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT.
The SAT is a test of reading, writing, and math skills and understanding. This is an analysis-based, multiple choice test. The test is scored in two sections: Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (EBRW) and Mathematics. The SAT now includes the interpretation of charts and graphs from the sciences and social sciences and passages from history, social sciences, and the humanities. There is also an optional Essay section, which is required at a very small number of colleges.
Most Park students take the SAT. They usually take the test for the first time in the winter or spring of their junior year. Most students take this test twice.
This test is administered at multiple sites in the Baltimore area; students must register themselves for this test online at collegeboard.com.
Please note: A new version of the SAT was launched in March 2016. Scores on this new test do not correlate to the same scores on the old test. Scores on the new test are higher. It is important to keep this in mind when comparing scores earned on the new SAT to reported data for applicants who took the previous version.
The Advanced Placement exams, or APs, are content-based tests offered in many subject areas. Some students take these tests after completing specific accelerated courses in math or modern language; other students take exams in the areas of their choice. The AP exams are rigorous and typically last between two and half and three and half hours, depending on the subject. Most exams include both multiple choice sections and essay-writing or problem solving.
The APs offer students two potential benefits. First, some colleges view strong AP scores as a positive additional component of an application. Second, students with high scores on these exams may be awarded college credit, given exemption from required college courses, or given priority in registration, though these practices vary widely from institution to institution.
AP exams are not required for admission to any U.S. college, and because Park offers no AP courses, colleges do not expect to see Park students taking AP tests. International universities may still require or strongly recommend AP tests for admission.
These tests are only offered once a year, in May, during the school day. Registration takes place through school in the fall. Park students who take AP exams usually do so in the junior year.