College Admissions Testing

Many colleges, including the UCs, have become Test Optional.  Check with the College Admissions Offices for current requirements.

The College & Career Center provides registration information and practice materials for many of the following standardized tests:

PSAT/NMSQT: Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This is the redesigned Preliminary SAT and is excellent practice for the redesigned SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT assesses reading, math, and writing skills. Junior year scores may qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students register online for the PSAT approximately two weeks prior to test day.

Tip: Colleges gain access to students’ names & addresses if student gives permission to College Board at the time of sitting for the PSAT or SAT exams. To receive lots of college brochures, bubble in “Y.” Or bubble “N” to opt out of college mailings.

SAT: The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is no longer required by many colleges and universities as part of the college admissions process. Check to see if your college choices have gone Test Optional. This three-hour test measures verbal and mathematics skills. Students may register for this test online at . Free Khan Academy study guides are available online at

Tip: Take the writing portion as most universities will require i, if they require test scores.

SAT Subject: The College Board has discontinued the SAT Subject Tests. Students may continue to use exam scores from prior years to meet A-G requirements (see Options for Meeting UC’s Subject Requirements). No UC campus, program or major requires SAT Subject Tests for admission.

ACT: The American College Test (ACT) is a college admissions test required by some colleges and universities as part of the college admissions process. The test is comprised of four parts: English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. The four-part test is three hours long. You may register for this test online at  Colleges accept the ACT or the SAT equally.

Tip:  Most colleges and universities will accept either SAT or ACT scores. Always check the college's admissions website for their specific requirements. One free test score is offered at time of exam. If the student sends his scores to one UC, all of the UC’s will have access to it.  

College Admissions Testing Schedule (SAT, ACT)

AP: The Advanced Placement (AP) exams are given in May at MSJHS. AP courses and exams represent the beginning of college-level academic challenges. Scoring a 3, 4, or 5 (out of 5) may enable a student to receive college units of credit (upon matriculation at a college or university). This is at the discretion of the college or university and is typically elective credits Always check with the college to see what they will credit. In Fall, MSJHS AP exam online registration procedures will be announced. Free study help through Khan Academy at

TOEFL: The Test of English as a Foreign Language is a college admissions examination required of students whose first language is not English, or who have had fewer than three years of high school in an English speaking country. Registration information is available online.  For more information, go to

English Language Proficiency Test: A two-hour long exam on English Language Proficiency. This test is one of the SAT subject test offerings. It is mainly for students whose primary language is not English.

DuoLingo is a shorter computer-adaptive test combined with a video interview, which integrates testing and identity verification, as well as provides insights into how well the student performs on open-ended questions in a conversational English setting. The computer-adaptive nature of the test helps prevent fraud, since each administration of the test is different. There is a strong correlation between DuoLingo test scores and TOEFL/IELTS test scores. 


When should I take my standardized tests?
Some issues to bear in mind:

  1. Students may take tests up to, and including, December of their senior year and be fine for most college admissions. The only consistent exception is for students who plan to apply Early Decision or Early Action and need to be done by October. It has also been the trend for some CSU’s (Sonoma State, Fullerton, SLO and Chico) to want the SAT completed by October. Always check each campus website and CSU Mentor for admissions requirements and test deadlines.
  2. The ACT is similar to the SAT. Both tests are virtually interchangeable in the world of admissions. 

Freshman Year

  • Relax; get the lay of the land. Check specific colleges’ requirements for SAT/ACT tests.

Sophomore Year

  • October: The PLAN (the practice ACT) or the PSAT if you are on the Honors track as practice for the ACT or SAT. Practice only test, not required by colleges.  Only for practice by student.
  • May:  Any appropriate AP exams

The Summer between the 10th and 11th grades

  • For students who decide to prepare for the SAT, this is the best time slot for that effort. Since grades are considerably more important than test scores, students should move SAT preparation out of the school year and into the summer slot, thus reducing the pressure during junior year.

Junior Year

  • October: Take the SAT exam, but only if you prepared during the recently concluded summer
  • October: Take the PSAT. The Junior year PSAT is the exam used to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program.  This test is practice for the SAT. Not required by colleges.
  • March or May: Take the SAT. For many students this will be their first time taking the exam
  • May: Take the appropriate AP exams
  • June: Take the ACT, if planning to

Tip:  Try to complete all college entrance exams by June of Junior year. First semester of Senior year will be busy with college applications.

Senior Year

  • October: Take the SAT, if needed. Focus on the weakest test results.
  • November: Take the tests that you didn't take in October (please note that this assumes you will be applying to colleges that require the SAT or ACT.)
  • December: Save this test date to improve any test results that are still unsatisfactory