Taking the Test(s)
Four-Year College Entrance Exams
The SAT and the ACT are the two major college entrance examinations required for most 4-year colleges. You can take practice examinations (PSAT – preparation for the SAT or the PLAN – preparation for the ACT) before your senior year to get an understanding of how well you will do on a specific test and what areas
you may need to focus on. SAT Subject Tests focus on specific academic areas and are required at certain colleges. Students who are considered International Applicants may be required to take an
English proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or the IELTS. Contact each of your potential colleges to see if you are required to take any of tests listed below.
Which test should you take?
|# of times offered
||6 times a year
||7 times a year
|Length of Test
Additional 30 minutes if taking the writing portion
|3 hours, 45 minutes
||ACT (No Writing): $33.00
ACT (With Writing): $48.00
Late Registration: Add $21.00
|Regular Registration: $47.00
Late Registration: $71.00
||Pre-algebra/ Elementary Algebra
Intermediate Algebra/ Coordinate Geometry
Plane Geometry/ Trigonometry
||Four types of reading selections: social studies, natural sciences, prose fiction, humanities
||Reading passages and sentence completion
||Data representation, research summaries, conflicting viewpoints
||Short essay and multiple choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage
|Penalty for Wrong Answers
PSAT at Seattle Public Schools
All Seattle Public School students have the opportunity to take the PSAT during the 10th and 11th grade. Talk with your high school counselor to learn the details of the PSAT. By taking the PSAT students have access
to resources that will help prepare them for the future:
- a list of careers and potential college majors based on the preferences indicated on the PSAT;
- access to MyRoad, the College Board's interactive college and career planning website;
- MY COLLEGE QUICK START, a personalized, interactive planning program based on the individual student’s test results;
- an online score report, including projected SAT score ranges,
state percentiles, and the ability to sort answer explanations by
difficulty and question type;
- a customized SAT study plan including a review of results, SAT practice questions, and personalized skill improvement ideas.
Two Year College Placement Exams
Most Washington State Community and Technical Colleges require a placement test. These tests allow students to be placed at the appropriate curriculum level for their educational needs.
The Seattle Community College District uses the Compass Placement Exam. If you are planning on attending a community college in Seattle, take advantage of the FREE Compass Test Prep Sessions available at each site. To watch a video about preparing for the Compass Exam, click here.
Learn more about two year college placement tests at Checkoutacollege.com.
Finding the Right College
Size, location, academic focus, campus life, public vs. private, in-state vs. out-of-state are just a few characteristics which should be considered when selecting a college. There is a college out there for everyone; it just takes time to find the best fit for you. Starting the college search process can begin at any time during high
school. Most students begin researching college options during junior year. To explore your college choices and find the right college for you, visit these web sites to search the more than 4,000 options out there.
Applying to College
The college application process begins during the fall of a student's senior year. Application deadlines for colleges range from the middle of November to well into March, so it is important for students to decide where they want to apply and submit their applications and financial aid forms on time. While you can use tools like College Board's College Matchmaker to learn about a college and their admission information, always contact the college's admissions office to get the most updated information.
With more than 4,000 different colleges, there is a variety of ways each college actually reviews and selects their students. Only a handful of colleges have a “highly-selective” admissions process. Almost all colleges admit a majority of their applicants. However, students need to be prepared academically (take the
right classes and challenge yourself) and socially (get involved with your school and community). These are the most important factors in your application. Talk with each of your potential colleges to learn how they review their applicants so you can do your best in the admissions process
Most colleges use their own custom application form, but many colleges use a shared application called the Common Application.
You can usually submit an application online or on paper via postal mail. You will most likely be required to send in additional materials, such as test scores and transcripts. Make sure that you complete the entire application and that the college receives everything to make your application complete.
To make sure you are on the right track for your senior year, download a copy of the 12th grade College Readiness Checklist.
Parts of a College Application
- Personal Information – This section requires
you to fill out contact information, parent/guardian information, and
demographic information. This is simply a fill-in-the-blank section.
- Transcript/Grades – Some colleges require you
to send official transcripts, while others simply have you self-report
your courses and grades in the application itself. This allows the
college to see how you have performed academically and how you have
- Test Scores – Most colleges will require you to
submit official test scores directly from the testing agency. Check
with each of your potential colleges to see the best way to report your
standardized test scores.
- Personal Statement/Essay – Many colleges have
the opportunity for students to describe who they are beyond test scores
and grades and this typically happens in the personal statement. Make
sure you spend time writing, revising, and reflecting on the essay
- Short Questions/Responses – Colleges can often
add additional questions beyond a large personal statement to get to
know you even more. Make sure to follow directions and respond to each
- Activities Log/ Résumé – To show what you do
outside of the classroom, many colleges may ask you to fill out an
“activities log” or include a résumé. This allows you to showcase your
involvement at your school, community, and personal life.
- Additional Comments – Students typically have
the space to provide any additional information that is not already
included in the application itself.
- Letters of Recommendation – Certain colleges or
honors programs at colleges may want to hear from someone that knows
you academically or personally and ask that you submit a letter of
recommendation. Make sure that you ask your teachers or counselors well
ahead of the deadline and provide them with a paid and addressed