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Undergraduate Applications: Entrance Exams

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Taking the PSAT

The PSAT tests are optional exams that help you practice for your SAT exams. It is often taken during your junior year of high school. Although they are not required, there are a number of benefits to taking the PSAT. These benefits include qualifying for awards such as a National Merit Scholarship, helping you become more familiar with the types of questions on the SAT exam, and honing your studying skills. Take into consideration, however, that the PSAT will require that you devote a lot of your time to studying for it. And, it is also an extra cost in your application process. Finally, there are a very limited number of test dates for the PSAT, so you will want to talk with your high school guidance counselor well in advance. Ask your counselor about other forms of test preparation, particularly if you or your family cannot afford this extra expense. Often, there are outside community groups that sponsor test prep opportunities, or that provide funding to help you pay for the test.

Taking the ACT and SAT

You will have to take an aptitude exam before you can apply to college. Your guidance counselor may recommend one type of exam over the other, and most colleges should accept either. You should still check with the college to make sure you understand what they require. If both types are acceptable, you will have to make a decision on whether to take the ACT or SAT. The Princeton Review has a good breakdown of the differences between the ACT and the SAT here. For example, the ACT is scored as a whole, while the SAT’s scores are broken down into sections.