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Standardized Testing FAQ
What is the PSAT? When should I take that? The PSAT is essentially a practice test in preparation for the SAT. Test questions are divided into three sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math—like the SAT. Each section is scored on a 0 to 80 scale (this differs from the SAT, which is scored on a 0 to 800 scale). Colleges will not use your PSAT score as part of the application review process. Your junior-year PSAT results enter you into the National Merit Scholarship Competition. Currently, at AEHS sophomores may take the PSAT for free. FARMS students are eligible to take the PSAT as a Junior for free. PSAT/NMSQT Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) this two hour test provides students with the opportunity to prepare for the SAT, to enter the National Merit Scholarship competition, and to participate in the Student Search Service. The Search Service gives colleges mailing lists of students who have agreed to have their names released. Colleges and universities pay the College Board for names of students who fall into certain categories selected by the individual college. These categories include test score ranges, ethnicity, GPA, and geographic location among others. The PSAT scores are reported as two-digit numbers ranging from 20 to 80. Multiplying those scores by l0 will give a student a rough estimate of his projected SAT I score. The Selection Index for the National Merit Scholarship Program is the sum of a student's verbal, math, and writing score on the PSAT administered in the junior year. The National Merit Scholarship Program uses the PSAT to screen those students of exceptional testtaking ability who may qualify for one of its scholarships. Students who score at or above a certain Selection Index cut-off are named National Merit Semi-Finalists in the fall of their senior year. This cut-off is calculated in proportion to the number of graduating seniors in the Maryland and will vary slightly each year. Six Albert Einstein High School seniors were recognized by the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program for their outstanding academic performance on the PSAT. One was named as a semifinalist. What is the difference between the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests? The SAT is a 3 hour and 45 minute test with three main sections: Critical Reading, Math and Writing. Each subsection is scored out of 800 points with a maximum total composite score of 2400. Please note that although your instinct might be to add all three scores together to find your composite score, colleges will look at each sub-score separately. The SAT Subject Tests are one-hour-long tests offered in subjects that correlate with high school classes. You can take up to three Subject Tests at any given test administration. These tests are designed to be taken after the completion of a year-long course in the subject area. Tests are offered in the following
subject areas: Math Level I, Math Level II (Precalculus and above), Biology, Physics, Chemistry, US History, World History, Literature, Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Korean, Japanese. SAT I - Reasoning Test The SAT I is a three-hour + test that measures verbal and mathematical reasoning ability. In March of 2005, the SAT was changed to include a Writing section. This raised the total possible points from 1600 to 2400. Critical Reading, Math and Writing scores are each reported as three-digit scores, ranging from 200 - 800. The Writing section includes a 20-minute free-response question in which students respond to a short prompt. The SAT tests are offered seven times a year. The SAT I is required by most competitive colleges and is meant to provide a reliable indication of a student's ability to do college work. SAT II - Subject Tests These tests measure a student's general level of achievement in a particular area of study. They are each one-hour long, and you may take three different tests on any one test date. Like the SAT I, the scores range from 200 to 800. There are a few colleges that require three SAT II Subject tests, but most either recommend or require only two. Check carefully the testing requirements of the colleges in which you are interested. Subject Tests, selecting those in which you are the best prepared. If you are thinking about studying engineering in college, you should plan on taking either the chemistry or the physics SAT II Subject Test. If you have any questions about which tests you should take, or whether you are ready to take a Subject Test after a certain class, consult with your teacher in that subject area or your college counselor. How many times should I take the SAT? You should plan on taking the SAT more than once. Colleges will look at your highest sub-scores in Critical Reading, Math and Writing—it cannot hurt you to take the test more than once. Beginning with the spring 2009 tests, you will be able to choose which scores you send to your colleges (your three subscores from any given test date will be linked together and cannot be separated-- for example, if you want your June of junior year test scores to be sent, all three sub-scores from that test date will be sent). When should I take the SAT? Whenever you are ready. SATs and Subject Tests are offered in January, March, May, June, October, November and December (you cannot take the SAT and Subject Tests on the same day). You should consider your own schedule to find the ideal times for you to take the test. Generally, the older you are, the more math you’ve taken, the more you’ve read, the better you will do. It is a good goal to plan on having your testing completed by October of your senior year. That being said, the November, December and January test dates are available for seniors who are not making Early Decision or Early Action applications. How many SAT Subject Tests will I need? When should I take them? Most colleges that ask for SAT Subject Tests will like to see two, although there are still a small number of colleges (Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton and Northwestern) that require three. You should plan on
having two or three tests completed by the end of your junior year; the June test administration is the best for SAT Subject Tests because your coursework will have just been completed. If you are thinking about studying engineering in college, you should plan on taking a Math test and either the Chemistry or Physics test. Otherwise, you should plan on taking tests in your strongest subject areas. Consult your teachers about the best time to take these tests. Do I have to study for the SAT Subject Tests? You will actually be studying by completing your course work! This is why the June administration is the best time for taking Subject Tests—you will have only just taken your final exams. It is certainly wise to go on www.collegeboard.org and read up on the tests you are taking, and there are also a number of testprep books produced by the College Board that can also be helpful in familiarizing yourself with the format of the test. If I am a freshman or sophomore taking a Subject Test, am I at a disadvantage? No. Remember that colleges will focus on your highest scores. If, for example, you take the SAT Subject Test in Biology in June of your freshman year, and you are not happy with your score, you can retake the test after taking AP Biology as a junior, or you can take a test in another subject and hopefully achieve a higher score. Beginning with the spring 2009 tests, you will be able to suppress the scores you do not want to highlight. With Subject Tests, most colleges will look at your two, or three, highest scores. How do I register to take the SAT/ SAT Subject Tests? You should register online at www.collegeboard.org . When you register, make sure you enter the Albert Einstein’s CEEB code: 210677. Check the Standardized Testing section of the College Counseling website for more information on testing and the new SAT security requirements.
ACT - American College Testing Program The ACT is accepted by most colleges in place of the SAT I, and sometimes for the SAT II Subject Tests. The ACT is comprised of four 35-50 minute sub tests in English, Mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. There is an optional writing section, which you should take if you are planning on using the ACT as your primary standardized test. Scores, ranging from 1 (low) to 36 (high) are given in the separate subject areas. You will also receive a composite score that averages the tests. What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT? The ACT is more similar to the SAT Subject Tests in that it is primarily a content-based test. The ACT is a 3 hour and 25 minute test scored out of a possible 36 points, with subsections in English, Math, Reading, Science and Writing (optional). A growing number of Einstein students are considering taking the ACT. Although most students who take both the ACT and the SAT often find that their scores are essentially equivalent, some students find the ACT to be a better test for them. Generally, the ACT is thought to be more straightforward and less strategy-based than the SAT. Where can I find out more information about the ACT? www.act.org
Standardized Testing for Students with Disabilities If you have a documented learning disability (a professional has evaluated you and has written a report indicating a learning difference and the need for special testing arrangements), you may be eligible for additional time or other accommodations. If this is the case and you wish to request extended timed testing or special testing materials, you need to complete a form requesting non-standard testing each time you register for the SAT I or SAT II. To check the College Board's site for students with disabilities, click here. Please see counseling to assist you with this. AP - Advanced Placement These exams are given in May. They are three-hour long examinations based on full-year college level courses offered in high school. APs are scored from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. Colleges have varying policies regarding the awarding of credit or placement based on your performance on AP exams. Although APs were not initially intended to be used in the admissions process, admissions officers do take notice of any AP scores in a student's application. Generally in courses designated Advanced Placement in the AEHS/MCPS curriculum, students are required to sit for the AP examination. In other subject areas qualified students may be invited by their teachers to take the AP examination (particularly in history and English) at the end of the course. The goal of AEHS is that all students score a 3 or higher. Sending your Test Scores to Colleges It is your responsibility to make sure that the required test scores reach each college to which you are applying. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has made this relatively easy for you to do; however, sending test scores is often the single most confusing thing in the college process. Sending SAT I Test Scores by Phone: Before calling ETS, gather the following information: • • • •
Score reports for each test The CEEB codes of each college Credit card Dial 1-800-SAT-score
You will be asked for your name, registration number (on the bottom of the score report), or your social security number (if you used it when you registered), and date you took the test. Sending SAT I/ SAT II Subject Test scores electronically: Follow the directions online at www.collegeboard.com. Sending SAT I/ SAT II Subject Test score NOTE THAT WITH THE 2012-2013 ACADEMIC YEAR, THE Testing Security NOTE THAT WITH THE 2012-2013 ACADEMIC YEAR, THE SAT HAS ANNOUNCED ENHANCED SECURITY MEASURES. Please read immediately, and carefully, the new SAT registration and identification requirements on the SAT website. Some of these will take time and advance planning, including these changes: You will need a photo ID in order to register; changes in test location must be made prior to the test day; changes in the type of test must be made in advance of the test date; stand-by (walk-in) testing will not be permitted; students will need both their photo ID and their admission ticket in order to be admitted to the test site.
IB- International Baccalaureate The IB Diploma Program is a demanding two year, pre-university course of study that leads to examinations. It is designed for highly motivated secondary school students aged 16 to 19. Similar to Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program earn credit hours or advanced placement in college courses.The program of study includes 13 courses, an extended essay, and creativity, action and service requirements. However, at AEHS, as long as space is available, IB classes are open to all students willing to challenge themselves with college level coursework without having to enroll in the IB Diploma Program. IB exams vs. AP Exams Any student may take an AP exam; specific courses are taught but are not a prerequisite for the exams; IB students may take AP exams. However, only IB students enrolled in the IB program may take IB exams or receive IB credit. IB exams are developed and scored by an international panel of examiners. Exams are administered locally and shipped for scoring to these examiners who live and teach in IB schools all around the world. If I can’t afford to pay for the test, what should I do? Any student who has a financial hardship should see their counselor. FARMS students are general exempt from paying for the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, IB and AP exams. Please see your counselor for details.
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