Taking college entrance exams is a huge milestone in your academic career. It can also be a very stressful time for students and their families. With so much riding on the outcome of these tests, it’s essential to be as prepared as possible.
In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the most popular college entrance exams and offer tips on how to pass them with flying colors. So whether you’re taking the SAT, ACT, AP, or GED exams, read on for everything you need to know to ace these tests!
What Is the Purpose of College Entrance Exams?
College entrance exams are an essential part of the college admissions process. They provide universities and colleges with a way to assess applicants’ academic abilities, interests, and skills.
These exams measure a student’s readiness for college-level work and help colleges determine who should be admitted into their programs.
By taking one of these exams, students can showcase their strengths and demonstrate their academic abilities in a standardized format that admissions officers can quickly assess. In addition, these exams provide universities and colleges with a way to compare applicants.
This allows them to differentiate between students with similar academic backgrounds or grades. Ultimately, college entrance exams provide universities with a comprehensive way to evaluate applicants and make admissions decisions.
Most Popular College Entrance Exams
Each college must pass a different entrance exam, meaning you must prepare for them and understand what your college is looking for.
Here are the 8 most popular college entrance exams.
Most colleges and institutions base their admissions choices on the SAT entrance exam.
The SAT is used to determine a high school student’s readiness for college and provides universities with a single, comparative piece of data to assess all applicants.
Standardized test results will be compared against your high school GPA, completed courses, letters of reference from instructors or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, and personal essays by college admissions staff.
The college specifies SAT scores’ weightage so that it can be different for every college.
2. SAT’s Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are a group of subject-specific college admission tests. These exams can strengthen your qualifications for admission. However, not all schools and institutions demand or take into account SAT Subject Tests when evaluating applications.
It is crucial to consider the prerequisites for each college you are interested in applying to as you prepare for college admissions. If a college asks you to take an SAT Subject Test, pick the subjects you most recently studied in honors, if feasible.
Another standardized aptitude exam used to gauge a student’s college preparation is the ACT. The ACT estimates a student’s capacity to succeed in college, just like the SAT does. Exam questions are prepared based on subjects taught in high school.
The multiple-choice test has four academic areas: science, reading, math, and English. The ACT English test is supplemented with an optional writing portion if desired. Some colleges require the writing test but not others. Based on the requirements of the schools you intend to apply to, you should decide whether or not to take the writing test.
Your final result is an average of the four topic areas, each graded from 1-36. (If you take the writing test, you will earn an ELA score that averages your English, reading, and writing scores in addition to a subject-level writing score.) The ACT is given 6 to 7 times a year and lasts under 3 hours.
To get test-taking experience before the ACT and SAT, sophomores in high school take the PSAT.
The PSAT score you obtain does not affect your transcript because it is only a practice exam. However, your PSAT score can help you discover areas where you need to spend more time studying, which might help you more effectively prepare for the ACT and SAT.
The PSAT is a 2-hour and 45-minute multiple-choice test. Students spend 25 minutes on the segment on arithmetic without a calculator, 45 minutes on the section on math with a calculator, 35 minutes on writing and language, and 60 minutes on the evidence-based reading section.
After passing the required high school courses, students can take Advanced Placement (AP) college-level exams.
AP examinations are not a requirement for entrance to postsecondary institutions. However, you can skip general education and significant requirement coursework if you receive high AP grades.
AP exams range in duration but often take 2 to 3 hours. Expect to see multiple-choice and free-answer questions depending on the exam you take.
Your total score on most AP exams is a weighted average of the results from each part. Your final grade will range from 1 to 5, and most colleges will grant credit for a score of 4 or higher.
Universities do not require students to take CLEP tests. However, business, composition and literature, history and social sciences, science and mathematics, and global languages are among the 5 primary subject areas covered by these tests.
Most CLEP exams are 90 to 120 minutes long and have multiple-choice questions with 5 possible answers. Several tests need written responses, and you will receive different grades.
On the CLEP tests, multiple-choice questions are graded by computers, while two or more English professors evaluate essays. You will be given a total score ranging from 20 to 80. Every college upholds its CLEP guidelines. Typically, to gain credit, you must score at least 50.
Non-native speakers must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to enroll in colleges and universities in English-speaking nations. When applying to a study abroad program or an overseas job, your TOEFL results may also be required.
The TOEFL evaluates a student’s proficiency in formal, academic language, and college-level vocabulary rather than considering conversational/casual English.
Most American higher education institutions demand the TOEFL or IELTS from applicants from nations where English is not the primary language. Check with an advisor about the English language requirements for your institution.
The TOEFL’s reading, listening, speaking, and writing portions are included. In addition, multiple-choice questions are present in the first two sections. Finally, the exercises in the last two parts, independent and integrated, measure how well you can comprehend English and express your ideas on a given topic.
4 scaled segment scores (ranging from 0 to 30), and a total score will be given to you (ranging from 0-120).
With the GED, a student who did not finish high school can still apply to colleges without a high school diploma. The four courses of the GED exam: social studies, science, language arts reasoning, and mathematics, can be completed to get a GED. One can take the four courses collectively or separately at a GED testing center.
To sit for the GED exam, you must register online. The GED exam requires online registration. The exam costs $120 ($30 for each subject) and includes two free retakes. Each topic receives a score between 100 and 200. A passing grade of 145 is required in each subject to get a high school equivalency diploma (150 in New Jersey).
A score of 175 might result in college credit, whereas a score of 165 is considered “college ready.” Most US colleges accept the GED in place of a high school diploma. 7 days before the desired test dates, the online registration period closes.
The newest examination is soon to be added to the CLT’s roster of exams for college admission. If it gains wider acceptability, that remains to be seen. Only a few colleges recognize the CLT, including several secular liberal arts colleges and universities, protestant Christian schools, Catholic colleges, and Catholic universities. It gives a shorter 2-hour exam (not counting the optional essay). The CLT administration is online, and results are available on the same day.
It’s important to note that while a perfect 1600 on the SAT or 36 on the ACT is equivalent to 114 on the CLT, students can also get greater scores on the CLT. However, the CLT allows for a maximum score of 120, providing greater separation amongst the beast pupils.
How Do I Pass the College Entrance Exam?
Passing a college entrance exam is easy if you plan the course of action. Here are some of the approaches that can help you pass the exam.
Choose Your Exam
Choose the exam best suited for you depending on your majors and the colleges you are interested in. If your college requires the ACT, but you are preparing for CAT, it will negatively affect your career path and hinder your academic career. Therefore, researching the test required by your college is the initial step to preparing for the exam.
Take Online Practice Exams
Regarding securing impressive scores – practice exams can be a lifesaver. They help you get familiar with the type of questions that will be included in the exams and help you manage the allotted time effectively. You must try out different practice exams and attempt them often to pass the college entrance exam easily.
Read Official Test Books
Finding the supplementing material can help you prepare for the exam, but you must acknowledge the importance of official test books. Search for the books on the official test website and repeatedly review the content. Official test books can help you cover the topics mainly included in the exam.
Even though the term ‘college entrance exam’ can cause the student to shake in their boots – there is no point in worrying. Selecting the exam, you will take and preparing for it is the sure way to succeed.
It would be best if you studied hard and practiced, and it will be easier to ace the exam with impressive scores. Be mindful of the shared preparation tips to better prepare for the exam and any surprises!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, only some institutions require candidates to meet a minimum ACT or SAT score requirement to be eligible for admission. However, test results are one aspect of the whole picture. Other colleges consider this when deciding whether to admit a student.
ACT and CAT are the most popular college entrance exams colleges widely accepted across the US.
85% and above are considered good entrance exam scores if you are looking for a college with an above-average entrance exam score requirement. For example, a 65% score can help you secure admission to a public college.