College Admissions Tests

The following information is intended to help students and parents navigate the various standardized tests students encounter during high school.  It can be confusing when some exams are mandatory and some are optional, and some require you to choose a specific subject area while others have only one option.  Additionally, some exams are required for graduation while others are required for college admissions. Your guidance counselor is here to help you navigate, please contact us as needed.


Below are some guidelines as to who typically takes these tests and why, the different standardized tests our students encounter, and links to further, more in-depth information. The guidance office has hard copies of the registration bulletins and college testing booklets listed below, feel free to come browse through our materials.

Note: Students are to register for tests and provide the testing fees directly. Deadlines will be included in the AHS Daily Announcements. Additionally, the Guidance office cannot send out official scores, only the college boards can do that at your instruction on your application forms.

Implications for College Admission

Many schools require standardized test results for admission. Please check with each college for their requirements. Colleges will be able to view and print your essay from your SAT/ACT exam if you send that college your test scores. Different colleges will use your writing scores in different ways. Writing scores may be used for admissions decisions and possibly for placement in English Composition courses. However, for the first few years, some schools may choose to use writing scores for research purposes only, and not for decisions about admission or placement. Please visit to find out which schools do not require testing for admission.  Bear in mind, if testing is not required, they will be looking more heavily at one's high school record, letters of recommendation, and perhaps other unique admissions criteria.

Non-Standard Test Administrations

Non-Standard Test Administrations (e.g. extended time) are available to students who have a documented learning disability and have been approved by the testing agency. If you believe you are eligible for non-standard testing, please consult with your guidance counselor or special education liaison.

The College Board

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,700 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. The College Board provides major programs and services in college readiness, college admission, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT® and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). At the, you can find a wealth of information regarding each of the tests, how to prepare for them, how to interpret the scores, assistance in identifying colleges, assistance in applying to colleges, and assistance with financial aid.

Sending Your ACT/SAT Scores

Be sure to have an OFFICIAL SCORE REPORT sent to colleges.  Most colleges do NOT accept unofficial standardized test scores and require that official score reports be sent through ACT or College Board. If you do not know the colleges you will be applying to when you register for the SAT/ACT or plan on applying to more than four colleges, arrangements to have additional score reports sent to colleges can be made online (see below). Please arrange to have score reports sent in a timely manner so that colleges will receive them by their application deadline.

College Admissions Tests

  • ACCUPLACER - The purpose of the ACCUPLACER test is to provide you with useful information about your academic skills in math, English, and reading. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with your academic background, goals, and interests, are used by academic advisors and counselors to determine your course selection. You cannot "pass" or "fail" the placement tests, but it is very important that you do your very best on these tests so you will have an accurate measure of your academic skills.

  • ACT/PLAN - AMERICAN COLLEGE TESTING - This assessment is used throughout the country by college and university admission offices. Somewhat like an SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Tests combined, it is curriculum based and includes tests related to high school content areas: English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning.

  • ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) TESTS - These are three-hour tests administered in May each year for students seeking advanced standing in college in certain subject areas. Please see the AP Course Descriptions for a list of those offered at AHS.
  • CLEP Tests - The College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) gives you the opportunity to receive college credit for what you already know by earning qualifying scores on any of 34 examinations. Earn credit for knowledge you've acquired through independent study, prior course work, on-the-job training, professional development, cultural pursuits, or internships.

  • PSAT/NMSQT - PSAT NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP QUALIFYING TEST - The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT Reasoning Test for students who are considering education after high school. It is generally taken in the junior year. Although some elect to take it sophomore year for additional practice, we recommend waiting until students have completed Algebra II.

  • SAT Reasoning Test - Taken in the junior year and often taken again in the fall of the senior year, it is required for admission to many colleges. The SAT Reasoning is primarily a multiple-choice test designed to measure verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities, much like an IQ test. There is a 25-minute essay that is required.

  • SAT Subject Tests - These tests cover a variety of academic subjects and are designed to test your level of knowledge. Colleges requiring these tests usually require either two or three. Students must investigate college requirements carefully, and be aware of when tests are given.

  • TOEFL – This test measures the ability of nonnative speaker of English to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in College and University settings. There are Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing sections of the exam. The exam is approximately 4 hours long and is internet based. Colleges may require the TOEFL exam if English is not a student’s first language.

Typical Testing Timeline


  • Sophomore Year - Some sophomores may elect to take the PSATs in October. All sophomores will take the state mandated MCAS in the spring of tenth grade. Sophomores may consider taking an SAT Subject Test in subject(s) that will not be studied again, such as Chemistry or World History. Advanced Placement Exams are administered in May.

  • Junior Year - The PSAT/NMSQT is administered in October. Test booklets and scores returned in December provide a study guide to assist students in their preparation for the SAT Reasoning Test in the spring. It is also the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students who wish to take the ACT in addition to or in lieu of the SAT Reasoning Tests, generally take it once, in either their junior or senior year.

    The SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests are usually taken in May and June of the junior year. Students who plan to apply to college as early action or early decision candidates are encouraged to take three subject tests by the end of the junior year. Advanced Placement Exams are administered in May.
  • Senior Year - Seniors typically take the SAT Reasoning or Subject Tests in October or November, often for the second time. Advanced Placement tests are administered in May. Students who wish to take the ACT in addition to or in lieu of the SAT Reasoning Tests, generally take it once, in either their junior or senior year.

Additional Information

What Standardized Tests Should I Take?                            
ACT Information and Registration                                                         AP Testing Schedule
On-line Registration, AP, PSAT/NMSQT and SAT                                Understanding Standardized Test Scores
The SAT Question of the Day                                                                 Links To Test Preparation Sites