Home Giving Contact District Calendar Website Concerns

College Admissions Testing

Comparative scores for the ACT and the SAT(source: Princeton Review) (PDF)

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

PSAT/NMSQT: Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This nationally administered test is only given on the third Tuesday and Saturday in October. Mission San Jose High School tests our students on Saturday. The PSAT/NMSQT gives students an opportunity to become aware of the types of questions they will confront on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Junior year scores qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students register for this test in the Career Center.

SAT I: The Scholastic Aptitude Test is required by many colleges and universities as part of the college admissions process. This is a three- hour test, which measures verbal, and mathematics skills. It should be noted that most colleges and universities will accept either SAT I or ACT scores. Students may register for this test online at www.collegeboard.com or use the forms available in the Career Center.

SAT II: The SAT II are subject based tests in writing, mathematics, literature, history, science, and languages. Some colleges and universities require these tests for admission. The University of California requires three of them: Writing, mathematics and one from English literature, foreign languages, science or social studies. Each test is one hour long. The registration procedures for this test is the same as the SAT I. See information on the Score Choice Option below.

ACT: The American College Test is a college admissions test required by many colleges and universities as part of the college admissions process. Most schools will accept the ACT in place of the SAT I. 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 www.act.org or use the forms available in the Career Center

AP: The Advanced Placement exams are given in May. AP courses and exams represent the beginning of college-level academic challenges. Scoring a 3,4, or 5 (out of 5) will often 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. In early spring, the Mission San Jose High School registration procedures will be announced.

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 booklets are available in the Career Center. For more information, go to www.toefl.org

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


Comparing the ACT and the SAT I

PurposeMeasures academic achievement in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Test contains large proportion of analytical and problem-solving exercises and few measures of narrow skills or basic recall.Designed to measure academic aptitude in verbal and numerical reasoning
Content25%- English: Usage/mechanics, punctuation, basic grammar/usage, sentence structure; Rhetorical skills, strategy, organization, style. 25% Mathematics: pre-algebra, elementary and intermediate, algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, trigonometry. 25% Reading: art/literature - prose fiction, humanities; social studies/sciences - history, political science, biology, chemistry, physics, physical sciences. 25% Science Reasoning: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills, required in biology, physical sciences, chemistry, and physics50% - Verbal: analogies, sentence completions, critical reading in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and narrative passages. 50% - Mathematics: arithmetic algebra, and geometry.
ScoringScores based on number of right answers. No penalty for guessing.Scores adjusted for guessing.
Score ScalesEnglish: 1-36 Reading: 1-36
Math: 1-36 Science: 1-36
Verbal: 200-800
Mathematics: 200-800
Total1-36 average of 4 test scores400-1600 sum of both tests


*Comparison information provided by ACT

When should I take my standardized tests?

Some issues to bear in mind as you read the time-table:

1) Students may take tests up to, and including, December of their senior year and be fine for college admissions. The only consistent exception is that those students who wish to apply Early Decision or Early Action need to be done by October. It has also been the trend for Sonoma State, Cal Poly, SLO and Chico to want the SAT I completed by October.

2) The ACT is the sister test to the SAT I. These two tests are virtually interchangeable in the world of admissions. In brief, students who test much better in English than they do in Math are better served by the ACT. Effective for students entering UC as freshmen in fall 2006, the ACT plus the new ACT Writing Test will be equal to the new SAT I.

3) The SAT II Subject Tests are counted twice in calculating the equation for eligibility for the UC's.

4) SAT II exams are subject based tests and should therefore be taken in June, when you have completed the year of study.

The Freshman Year

  • Relax; get the lay of the land. The only test that you might take at the end of your freshman year is the SAT II subject test in Biology if you have completed Honors Biology.

The Sophomore Year

  • October: The PLAN (the practice ACT) or the PSAT if you are in the Honors track
  • May: Any appropriate AP exams
  • June: Any appropriate SAT II subject tests

The Summer between the 10th and the 11th graderade

  • For those students who decide to prepare for the SAT exams, this is the best spot 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.

The Junior Year

  • October: Take your first SAT I exam, but only if you prepared during the recently concluded summer
  • October: Take the PSAT. The junior year PSAT is the exam that is used to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program
  • March or May: Take the SAT I. For many students this will be their first crack at the exam
  • May: Take the appropriate AP exams
  • June: Take appropriate SAT II subject tests

The Senior Year

  • October: Take either the SAT I or the SAT II. Focus on the weakest test results.
  • November: Take the bank of tests that you didn't take in October (please note that this assumes you will be applying to colleges that require both the SAT I and the SAT II exams; if this does not apply to you, then you will not be taking any test in November)
  • December: Save this test to clear up any test results that are still unsatisfactory.

SAT II at UC Campuses

Recommended SAT Subject Tests for 2012 - While SAT Subject Tests will not be required for fall 2012 admission or beyond, some campuses recommend that students vying for slots in competitive majors take the tests to demonstrate subject proficiency.  A recommendation is not a mandate. You will not be penalized for failing to take the SAT Subject Tests. On the other hand, submission of test scores may add positively to the review of your application.

Campus recommendations - A few UC campuses already have determined SAT Subject Test recommendations for specific colleges or schools, and majors. If your major is not listed, then there is no recommendation at least not at this point. The remaining campuses either have not finalized their position or have chosen to view subject test scores, in general, as adding merit to a student's application.

Berkeley -College of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Along with looking for evidence of high academic performance in math and science, the presence of SAT Subject Tests, particularly in a science and Math Level 2, will be considered a plus.

Davis - SAT Subject Tests will not be recommended in any area.

Irvine - Under faculty consideration.

UCLA - Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science: Math Level 2 and science are recommended and considered as value-added achievements during the application evaluation.

Merced - Under faculty review.

Riverside - Expects that the College of Natural Science and the College of Engineering will recommend Math Level 2 and science, but the decision has not been finalized.

San Diego - Jacobs School of Engineering and Division of Biological Sciences: SAT Subject Tests in Math Level 2 and science are recommended and considered as value-added achievements during the application evaluation.

Santa Barbara - College of Engineering: Math Level 2.

College of Creative Studies:
    Literature for literature majors
    Math Level 2 for math majors
    Math Level 2 and Physics for physics majors
    Biology for biology majors
    Chemistry for biochemistry and chemistry majors
    Math Level 2 for computer science majors

College of Letters and Science: Although they won't be required, test scores will be considered as value-added achievements during the application evaluation.

Santa Cruz - Under faculty review.

Last Modified on April 5, 2011