PSAT/PLAN/SAT/ACT

Many colleges require standardized test scores to be submitted as part of the application package. Below you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about testing and test-prep programs.

What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?

  • ACT - an achievement test that measures what you've learned. Consists of subject area tests in English, math, reading, science and writing. Beginning freshman year, PLP students can use the "PrepMe" program on Naviance to prepare for the ACT. At Pine Lake, all students take the ACT in March of their junior year at no charge. This is a "real" ACT and scores should be reported to the students' colleges of interest.
    - Upcoming test dates
    - Visit the ACT website for more information
    - Click here for a .pdf of SAT vs. ACT - similarities and differences
  • SAT Subject Tests - Hour-long, content-based tests that allow students to showcase their achievement in specific subject areas where they excel. Helps students to differentiate themselves in the college admission process or sends a strong message regarding their readiness to study specific majors or programs in college. Most colleges do not require these tests, but some do - check with admissions at colleges of interest to be sure (NOTE: If you choose to take a subject test, take it immediately following completion of the course so the material will be fresh in your mind).
    - Upcoming test dates
    - Visit the SAT Subject Tests website for more information

Which is best for me - the ACT or SAT?

  • Both the ACT and SAT are accepted virtually everywhere. Colleges do not prefer one or the other, as long as you have at least one test score to submit to them.

When should I take the ACT/SAT?

  • Most students complete testing in their junior year (all testing should be completed PRIOR to senior year). We recommend that you take at least one ACT and one SAT, to see which test you do better on and then take that test a second time.

What is a "superscore?"

  • Many colleges "superscore," which means that they will take the highest subscore from each section of a test on multiple exam dates to create a superscore. Colleges are not interested in your lowest scores - only your highest scores. This means it benefits students to send ALL scores to ALL colleges to which they will be applying.

Tests that prepare you for the ACT and SAT:

  • EXPLORE - Taken in 8th and sometimes again in 9th grade, the EXPLORE test prepares students for the ACT. The EXPLORE test also helps students to begin thinking about career options based on their interests and goals.
  • PLAN - Taken in 10th grade, the PLAN test prepares students for the ACT and scores are an indication of the potential score on the ACT.
  • PSAT/NMSQT - Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test - taken in 10th grade and optionally again in 11th grade to qualify for National Merit Scholarships.

More on Standardized Tests:

  • Learn the basics about standardized testing here.

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