Know your options for standardized tests!

Many SHS sophomores will take the PSAT in October. It is good practice for the SAT and test scores are the qualifiers for a National Merit Scholarship or a Letter of Commendation. There are five sections: two verbal, two math, and one writing skills.

Students can take either the SAT or the ACT college placement tests. All colleges and universities in the U.S. now accept both. Which test should you take? There are some key differences between the two tests so do some research before you decide. Many students end up taking both tests.

Most students take the SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year, and many will re-take the test when they are seniors (scores will generally improve). Please be aware that community colleges do not require students to have taken the SAT or the ACT in order to attend. We still recommend students take one or the other if they plan on applying to scholarships, which often do require minimum SAT or ACT scores.

The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college. Registration is done online. The cost is $54.50, late registration is an additional $28.00. You must have a payment method and electronic photo of student on hand when you register.

SAT Subject Tests: Some colleges require a separate SAT Subject Test. Scores are used in the admissions decision process or for course placement. Subject tests are offered on the regular SAT test dates, but are administered in a separate room. You may take up to three exams on a test date. Each subject test lasts an hour and has an additional fee. Research your top colleges to see if they require an SAT Subject Test.

All U.S. colleges accept the ACT as an alternative to the SAT. There are four sections: English, math, reading, and science reasoning. The cost is $39.50 (no Writing Test) or $56.50 (with Writing Test). Some colleges require the ACT Writing Test, so check their individual websites before you register. Late registration is an additional $24.

Fee waiver slips for the SAT and the ACT are available. See Jenny Bloom in the Counseling Office.

Before you invest hundreds of dollars on an SAT or ACT practice course, check out some of the excellent free online test preparation sites that are out there.  We have listed a few below. 

Are you taking the SAT or ACT soon?  The best way to prepare is to start taking practice tests.

  • Khan Academy is now partnered with the College Board for free, online SAT practice. Take a full-length SAT, watch videos explaining questions you missed, specific math, reading and writing SAT tutorials.


  • Free SAT practice tests – no usernames or passwords:


  • Print full-length ACT and SATs. You will need to time and score them yourself. Free:



  • Learning Express Library offers free SAT tutorials and practice tests. You can find it by logging into CIS: (Username: sandyhigh  Password: pio2000) then log-in to your portfolio (or create a new portfolio) to access the Learning Express site.