With so many school entrance exams out there, the acronyms seem to make no more sense than a pile of Scrabble tiles. How do you sort through all the letters to find out which test matters and how to help your child prepare?
Start with your child’s college or post-graduate goals to determine which tests are essential. Standardized entrance tests typically measure students’ writing abilities and skills at reasoning verbally and mathematically. Exams vary depending on the degree test-takers plan to earn. Admissions committees often use the scores as part of the entire application package as a way to objectively compare students, who come from different educational backgrounds. However, the importance of test scores varies widely by school, and you should check out how much they matter.
– To Get into College (Undergraduate)
U.S. colleges generally accept two standardized tests designed to show which students are ready for academic life after high school. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT Reasoning) (collegeboard.com) measures ability in math, critical reading and writing. The Educational Testing Service offers the test for a fee of $45 for domestic test-takers. International test-takers must pay an additional $26. Scores range from scale of 200 to 800 per section. Students may re-take the SAT, but colleges will receive scores from all test dates.
Hour-long sat kursu subject tests are available in literature, history, math, science and foreign languages. Scores range from 200 to 800. Language tests cost $40, and the fee for each other subject test is $29. Check with the admissions staff at the schools your child is considering to see if they accept results of the SAT subject tests.
While the SAT Reasoning exam measures student aptitude, another test called the ACT evaluates both skill and knowledge. The ACT (actstudent.org) uses multiple choice questions to test knowledge in English, math, reading and science, with an optional essay-writing segment. Test-takers can earn from 1 to 36 points on each part; the total score is an average of the section results. Domestic test-takers must pay a $32 fee to take the ACT without the writing section, which costs an extra $15. International test-takers must pay an additional $26 fee. Students may re-take the test and decide which scores to send to colleges.
– To Get into Graduate School
Like college admissions tests, entrance exams for graduate and professional schools measure reasoning ability and proficiency in writing. Test-takers may also have to demonstrate subject knowledge.
Graduate school applicants generally take the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (ets.org) and one of eight subject tests in literature, math and science – depending on the requirements of the school. The general test includes verbal, quantitative and writing sections. The score range for the general test is 200-800 (0-6 scale score for analytical writing). The general test costs $160 in the U.S. International students pay about $190 with the fee – varying slightly according to region. Each subject test costs $140 in the U.S. and $160 everywhere else. Students may cancel their scores at the end of the test to prevent the results from being submitted to graduate schools. They may also re-take the GRE, but ETS will report all non-canceled scores earned within five years.
– To Get into Business School
To enter Masters of Business Administration programs, students take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) (gmac.com), which includes an analytical writing section, verbal segment and quantitative portion. Scores range from 200 to 800. The GMAT costs $250. Students may have their scores deleted and re-take the test, but reports to business schools will reflect all cancellation requests.
– To Get into Medical School
Applicants to medical school take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) (aamc.org), which includes sections on science, verbal reasoning and essay writing. The test costs $230 (international test site additional $65). Scores range from 1 to 15, and applicants may cancel them at the end of the exam. Students may re-take the MCAT up to three times per year.
– To Get into Law School
Law school applicants take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) (lsac.org). Prospective students must demonstrate skill in reading comprehension, analysis and logical reasoning. Applicants may take the LSAT up to three times in two years. The test costs $132, and scores range from 120 to 180. Applicants may re-take the test, but law schools will see all non-canceled scores. Some law schools average the scores from several test dates while others take only the best result.