College Admissions Testing

An Overview

Many colleges require applicants to take one of two widely accepted college admissions tests--the SAT or the ACT--as part of their application process. Most college applicants take one or both of these tests during the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. The SAT is administered by the College Board and the ACT is administered by American College Testing, Inc.

Both organizations offer preliminary versions of their tests--the PSAT or the PreACT--that allow younger students (usually 10th and 11th graders) to practice for the exams required by colleges. In addition to providing practice for the SAT, the PSAT/NMSQT, taken in October of the junior year, serves as the qualifying exam for the widely known National Merit Scholarship Program.

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

  1. ACT questions tend to be more straightforward.
  2. The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary.
  3. The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not.
  4. The ACT tests more advanced math concepts.
  5. The ACT Writing Test is optional on test day, but required by many schools.
  6. The SAT is broken up into more sections.
  7. The ACT is more of a "big picture" exam.

Some students end up scoring higher on the SAT; others do better on the ACT, depending on the student.

Typical Testing Calendar

10th Grade

October--10th graders can take the PSAT as practice for their 11th grade PSAT/NMSQT. A PSAT exam taken in 10th grade cannot be used to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

11th Grade
October--All Juniors take the PSAT/NMSQT for National Merit Scholarship consideration. Offered at ACLC.
February/March--an SAT Prep Course is offered on the ACLC campus.
May--Take the SAT. (Other spring/summer test dates are offered in March, June, and August.)
June--Take the ACT. (Other spring/summer test dates are offered in February, April, and July.)
12th Grade
Fall--If not content with spring scores, seniors can retake the SAT in October, November or December.
Fall--If not content with spring scores, seniors can retake the ACT in September, October or December.

College Testing Resources

Free Online Test Practice
PSAT Practice at
ACT Practice at
SAT Practice at
SAT Practice at