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The ABCs of College Admission Exams

standardized-test

As my teenage daughter enters the homestretch of her sophomore year of high school, she is once again fretting the alphabet. I’m referring to the many college admission exams and their associated acronyms.

SAT-test-graphic

SAT stands for the Scholastic Assessment Test, and it’s been around since the early 1900s. In the 1930s the test took on much the same format it has now, which is yet another reason the era became known as The Great Depression. The test is divided into three sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing, otherwise known as ugh, ugher, and ughest. The test is offered seven times a year and is typically taken by High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

SAT2-graphic

The SAT II is shorter than the SAT, and refers to specific subject tests. Literature, math, history, science, and foreign language tests are available. Many colleges and universities require at least one SAT II score, but in many instances it’s a student’s voluntary chance to prove their specific academic strength, which is another way of saying, their guidance counselor made them do it.

ACT-logo

ACT stands for American College Testing, and it features multiple-choice questions in the subjects of English, Math, Reading, and Science. Originally, ACT scores were the more widely accepted standardized test scores in Southern and Midwestern schools, while the SATs were preferred in East Coast and West Coast schools. But in the past few years, those students taking the ACT has surpassed the SAT. The development of both the ACT and the SAT was thought to offset the inequality of schooling nationwide, which effects student curriculum, achievement, and grading. Because gah knows the inequality of schooling does not effect the ACT and SAT scores, cough.

pencil-graphic

AP stands for Advanced Placement, and in the case of the AP Test it refers to the measure of a student’s mastery of their Advanced Placement course in the usual variety of subjects. These tests are administered in the spring, and are graded not with numbers, but rather on a scale that ranges from Extremely Well Qualified to Sorry Kid. Some colleges and universities will even waive their college-level equivalent course, allowing your child to spend their course money in more efficient ways, for instance buying enough Poster Tape  to pave the line down the center of a highway.

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