These are the five major tests you will encounter, all administered by the College Board: PSAT, SAT I, SAT II-Subject Tests, ACT and AP exams.
PSAT is a test administered in October to prepare you for the SAT I. You should have received a copy of your answers along with the correct answers and difficulty level of each question. This is an excellent source to use as your prepare for the SAT I.
The SAT I is a three-hour exam that consists of three parts, verbal, math and writing. Each section is scored on a scale from 200 to 800. Prep course are offered to help you prepare. Most sources feel that practice tests are the best form of preparation. You should plan on giving yourself three opportunities to take the SAT I exam. The best test dates are believed to be March and May of the junior year and October of the senior year. Since your score and percentile ranking are determined in relation to all the other students that are testing that day, it is to your advantage to take it when the most students are testing. The best test day overall seems to be in March. The most difficult test day seems to be in January. This is due to the fact that most students taking the test in January tend to be the students who are the most prepared, have their acts together early and are planning on apply early to one of the more selective colleges. It is recommended that you only take the SAT I up to three times. When you send your test scores to the colleges you are applying to, collegeboard.com sends all of your scores. Most colleges will take the highest verbal or math score, even if they occur on different dates. The writing section score is currently not being used by most colleges. Students should be preparing intensively from January until the May test date.
SAT II Subject Tests
These are one-hour exams in specific subject areas that test a student’s knowledge of a particular field of study. Test scores range from 200 to 800 for each test. You should look at the websites of schools you are interested in applying to and determine what their SAT II requirements are. For instance the UC system requires two SAT II Subject Tests in two different subject areas. You can review their requirements at on the UC website You need to plan ahead, not all subject tests are available on each testing date and you can only take up to three SAT II tests on any given day.
The ACT is a single-format test in the areas of English, reading, math and natural science. You will receive sub-score on each of these four sections, graded on a scale of 1 to 36 as well as an overall composite score. The ACT is accepted at all colleges. The ACT is a shorter test and students that are strong in math and science tend to score higher and find it easier. Students are encouraged to take the ACT since there is really no disadvantage in doing so. Students will only be required to send their highest score in either the SAT I or the ACT. You can see the SAT and ACT score comparisons on the college board website
Advance Placement Tests
Advance Placement Tests are not required for college admission but they do demonstrate the ability to perform work at a college level and in-depth knowledge of a particular field of study. They are offered in 33 different curricular areas. If you do well on these exams you can earn 3, 4 or 5 units of college credit based on your score.