There are two main college entrance exams, the ACT and the SAT.  Below you will find information on each and which one is right for your student.


The American College Test (ACT) measures these skills in four subjects; English, Math, Reading and Science, and also a fifth optional writing portion.

The ACT is the preferred test for all freshmen entering any institution of the University of Wisconsin System.  The ACT is a three hour test, with each section scored on a scale of 36 points and then combined and averaged for a composite score also on a scale of 36. Each college will determine how the ACT is to be used in its admissions process.  In no situation can the ACT be the sole criteria for admission.

Students have the option of taking the ACT or the ACT Plus Writing, which includes a 40-minute writing test for an additional fee.  The ACT Plus Writing compliments the English portion of the ACT test.  The combined results from both tests provide information about your understanding of standard written English and your ability to produce an impromptu essay.  The ACT Plus Writing will provide you with an additional writing score (scored out of 36) and four writing domain scores (scored out of 12).  Taking the writing test does not affect your subject area scores of the ACT or your composite score.  The writing score cannot be separated from the rest of the scores from that test date.  That is to say, if you did really well on writing the first time you took the test and decided not to take writing the next time, but had a better over all composite score the second time, you will have to show the schools both scores if they require the writing.

Not all colleges and universities require the ACT Plus Writing test.  Always check with the institution you are considering; to find out their requirements.  You can also check the ACT website for a list of schools that have provided information about their policies.  Students are encouraged to take the writing portion to allow them the most options when choosing a college.

Register for the ACT here.



The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has recently made changes (starting March 2016) It now includes four sections; reading, writing and language, math and the optional essay.  A perfect score is 1600 as before.  The test itself takes 3 hours (3.5 hours with the essay portion).

The SAT has recently been approved for admission use in the University of Wisconsin System, although the ACT is still the preferred test.  A number of highly selective schools usually located on the east or west coasts prefer the SAT.  To make certain of testing requirements, please check the college website, or a college guidebook located in Student Services.

Parent if you remember the SAT vocab prep, you will be relieved to know that is no longer necessary.  The SAT also changed their guessing penalty, there is no longer a penalty for guessing.

Register for the SAT here.


SAT II (Subject Tests)

This is the third type of admissions test.  The subject specific test compliments the SAT or ACT.  SAT subject tests are one hour tests that measure the level of achievement in a particular subject.  There are approximately 18 subjects available, and you choose up to three to take on a single test day.  Colleges will sometimes specify a subject (usually math); and the other two tests are then your choice.

Register for the SAT II here.


One More thing.

If testing is not a strong suit for your student, please check out the colleges and universities that belong to Fair Test.  These school are committed to not putting as much importance on test scores for the college admissions process.

Click here for Fair Test