Standardized Testing Information

Registering for Tests

  • You should register online for the SAT and ACT. 
  • To register, use these links:

                               SAT and SAT Subject Tests: www.collegeboard.org

                              ACT: www.actstudent.org

  • Use your full, legal name when registering for all tests!
  • It is each student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate tests and to submit her scores to the necessary colleges by the application deadlines.
  • For a listing of test-optional colleges go to: www.fairtest.org

PSAT/NMSQT

The PSAT won’t count towards your college admissions applications, but it is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship. This means that some of the highest scoring students may win scholarship money, so while you shouldn’t stress out about the PSAT, you certainly shouldn’t ignore it either. Instead, use the PSAT as practice for the SAT and ACT and one of the starting points on your college admissions journey. The PSAT is offered nationally every year in October.  The exam length is 2 hours, 45 minutes. The PSAT has two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.  Students will encounter passage-based questions—sometimes accompanied by tables, graphs, and charts—and math problems drawing upon algebra, and geometry. Each section is scored on a scale of 160–760, making a “perfect” score 1520. But wait! There are also test scores, cross-test scores, and subscores.

SAT Test

The SAT test is three hours in length, with an additional 50-minute period for students whose choose to take the optional essay portion. The objective of the test is to predict student readiness for college. The test scores can be used as a tool to help you find a college that is a good fit for you. The 2016 redesigned SAT exam places the emphasis on language, mathematical, and analytical skills that are essential for college success, and the new exam should be better aligned with high school curricula. Colleges will usually consider the highest score from each section. The SAT is administered seven times a year: January, March, May, June, October, November, and December. The October, May, and June dates are the most popular--many students take the exam once in the spring of junior year, and then again in October of senior year. For seniors, the October date is often the last exam that will be accepted for early decision and early action applicatoon.s.  Scoring is a 1600-point scale:  Math and Reading/Writing will each be worth 800 points, and the optional essay will be a separate score.

SAT Subject Tests

The College Board offers 20 different SAT Subject Tests. Each is designed to measure a student’s knowledge in one subject area as compared to other college bound students. A small number of highly selective colleges require or recommend that applicants take some combination of these tests. Some colleges specify which SAT Subject Test is to be taken, while others allow the applicant to choose. Therefore, it is important to find out the current policies of the colleges to which you are applying.

The best time to take the SAT Subject Tests is very soon after you have completed course work in a subject so the material is fresh in your mind. It is especially wise to take a Subject Test at the completion of a course if you will not be taking that subject again (chemistry, for example.)

You may take up to three tests on a single test date. Some colleges use these scores as part of the admission selection process and others use them only for placement in college courses. Your decisions about which Subject Test(s) to take should be based on your academic strengths. It is usually recommended that students take SAT Subject Tests in areas that they have studied on an advanced level. Most students take the majority of their and SAT Subject Tests in May or June of their junior year.

To register for the SAT or SAT Subject Tests, go to www.collegeboard.org.

ACT Test

The ACT is a national college admissions examination. ACT results are accepted by all 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S., even those institutions that were once SAT strongholds. In fact, many colleges that require the SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests will permit the ACT with Writing to be substituted instead. Because testing requirements can change from year to year, be sure to consult individual colleges’ websites for the most current information.

The ACT is not an aptitude test or an IQ test. It is a curriculum-based test which measures educational development. The test emphasizes reasoning, analysis, problem solving, and the integration of learning from various sources, as well as the application of these proficiencies to the kinds of tasks college students are expected to perform. The ACT is divided into four parts and is more content oriented: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science Reasoning. The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes about 2 hours and 55 minutes. There are five scores on the ACT. Each of the individual tests is scored on a 1-36 scale. A composite score, which is the average of the four individual test scores rounded to the nearest whole number, is the one most often used for admission or placement purposes. The writing test, which is optional, measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. We strongly recommend that a student taking the ACT register for the ACT With Writing.

Unlike the SAT, most colleges will use only the highest scores from one report of the ACT. However, some colleges do “superscore” the ACT. Check with the admissions office at your prospective colleges for each institution’s most current policy. ACT registration should be completed online at www.actstudent.org.

 

Advance Placement Exams

The AP exams are administered by the College Board and are taken upon the completion of an AP course. The exams are graded on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest score. Depending on the score you receive, advanced placement and/or college credit can be earned at the college you choose to attend.

For further information about each institution’s policies for granting AP-related credit, see the course catalog or speak with an admissions representative.

 

Testing for Students with Physical Disabilities or Learning Differences

Students with physical disabilities or learning differences may require accommodations for taking standardized tests.  Students with physical disabilities or documented learning differences are eligible to apply for accommodations on the College Board (PSAT, SAT, and AP) and ACT examinations. The qualifications for these testing conditions are very specific and are determined by the College Board and ACT. Documentation must be on file at MMA and other stringent criteria must be met. Contact Mr. Bill Baillie for information about establishing eligibility and registration for extended time.

Eligibility

A Student Eligibility Form must be submitted for each student who requests accommodations. To be eligible, the student must:

1. Have a disability that necessitates testing accommodations.

2. Have documentation on file at school that supports the need for requested accommodations and meets the Guidelines for Documentation.

3. Receive requested accommodations, due to the disability, for school-based tests.

Please note:

The presence of a disability or diagnosed learning difference does not automatically qualify a student for accommodations such as extended time. A student’s condition must demonstrate a functional impairment in the student’s major learning process. If standard time testing is inappropriate for a student based on her diagnosis, the College Board and/or ACT will make that determination. Please see the College Board website at www.collegeboard.com/ssd/student.html and the ACT website at www.actstudent.org for more detailed information.

After Approval

If you are approved for accommodations by the College Board, Mr. Baillie and your family will receive your Student Eligibility letter. This letter indicates the specific accommodations for which you are eligible. It will include your unique SSD Code to use when communicating with the College Board’s SSD office. The ACT will send the approval letter only to you.

Deadlines

The College Board and the ACT require a minimum of seven weeks for the review of a student’s application. Be sure to check their websites for deadlines in order to submit documentation in a timely fashion.

The ACT requires the application for extended time to accompany the actual test registration and fee. Therefore, a student cannot apply for accommodations on the ACT without registering for an actual test date.

Reporting Scores

  • Students are expected to keep records concerning their own testing results.
  • Students are responsible for reporting their scores directly to the colleges.

 

Test-optional Policies

Over 800 four-year colleges and universities deemphasize the use of standardized tests in making admissions decisions by offering waiver or non-report options. Some schools on the list include Colby, College of the Holy Cross, Fairfield, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Marist, Loyola, NYU, St. Joseph's University, Providence, Temple, University of Scranton, just to name a few. Some colleges do not require standardized testing for any students, whereas others exempt those students meeting a particular GPA requirement. Most colleges require a supplement to the application if test scores are not reported. Always check with the admissions office at individual colleges to learn the most current policies. For a complete listing of schools with test score optional policies, go to www.fairtest.org.

FAQs

Q: What if I’ve decided to apply early decision or early action to a school with a November 1 deadline? What about senior year testing?
A: The early admission plans were established to assist those students who are clearly qualified for admission to their first choice and who have made up their minds about which college they hope to attend. An early candidate usually stands on her three year record. However, if you wish to re-take your SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, or the ACT, the October SAT test date and September ACT test date are recommended for early admission applicants.

Q: How do I send my scores to colleges?
A: Scores can be sent to colleges after each round of testing. It usually takes about three to four weeks for the score reports to be received. At the time of registration, you may select four colleges to which scores will be sent for free. When registering for the SAT or the ACT, be sure to list Merion Mercy Academy as your high school. For an additional fee, you may send scores to more than four colleges. 

Q: What is Score Choice?
A: Score Choice gives students the option to choose which SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject Test scores they send to colleges. Score Choice is optional, and if students choose not to use it, all scores will be sent. We recommend not using Score Choice. Trust colleges! They will consider only your highest scores. For more information on this policy, go to www.collegeboard.org. 

In contrast to the College Board, scores from the ACT are always sent by test date only. For additional information on this policy go to www.actstudent.org.

Q: Should I take a prep course for the SAT?
A: This is a personal decision. There are many ways to prepare for the SAT. Some students use online practice questions and full length test provided by College Board, others use computer software, some take a prep course or hire a private tutor. Test-prep courses vary in length, cost, and the amount of homework assigned. Therefore, it is important to research these courses and weigh your options. Usually students feel better prepared if they have done some type of practicing on their own or otherwise, but you must be conscientious and motivated to get something out of whatever option you choose. Be sure to consider the amount of time that you are able to devote to a prep course. It is important to consider all the demands in your life—extra-curricular activities, homework, etc. before making a decision.

REMEMBER: Your first priority should be your grades.

Q: Can a student take the SAT Reasoning Test and a Subject Test on the same day?
A: No, only one or the other may be taken. A student may take up to 3 Subject Tests in one sitting. 

Q: What is the difference between ACT and SAT?
A: The ACT measures achievement in reading, mathematics, writing, and science reasoning.

The SAT measures critical reading, math, and writing abilities generally associated with academic performance in college. On average, 80% of students score similarly on the SAT and ACT. The remaining 20% of students score better on one or the other. 

Q: Which test scores will the colleges use?
A: Most colleges will use the highest critical reading and highest math scores from different SAT test dates. The majority of colleges do not “superscore” the ACT. Check with the colleges that you’re interested in to see how/if they are using the writing score of the ACT and/or SAT.

* For information about SAT’s go to www.collegeboard.org

* For information about ACT go to www.actstudent.org

A Last Word on Testing

How important are your test scores? That depends on where you are applying. In many cases, the larger the college or university, the greater the emphasis on test scores. College guidebooks and admission materials often indicate an average score for students. Keep in mind that this is an average, not a minimum. More schools have moved to the reporting of their scores as ranges for the middle 50% of their students. This information is usually more helpful and less intimidating. If your test scores are within the college's range, their relative importance, when compared to other parts of your application, decreases.

College admission officers are fully aware that some students do not "test well." Slow reading speed, unfamiliarity with the test format, or simple fear may cause a student to perform poorly on standardized tests. For these reasons, test scores are usually reviewed in the context of all other parts of the student's application.

An independent, Catholic, all-girls college preparatory high school for grades 9-12
Merion Mercy Academy
511 Montgomery Avenue Merion Station, PA 19066
P (610) 664-6655
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