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College Admissions Testing

The 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 nationally administered test is given once a year in October. Mission San Jose High School will be testing our students on Wednesday, Oct 14, 2015. 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 required by many colleges and universities as part of the college admissions process. This three-hour test measures verbal and mathematics skills. Students may register for this test online at www.collegeboard.com . The re-designed SAT will start with the March 2016 test date.

Tip: Try to avoid taking the SAT in March 2016 because your results will not be available until May 2016, too late to plan to re-test, if needed. Also, this is the first administration of the re-designed test.  
Freshmen & Sophomores
: do not take the old SAT because it will not be accepted by colleges.

SAT Subject: The SAT Subject Tests are subject based tests in writing, mathematics, literature, history, science and languages other than English. Some colleges and universities require these tests for admission. Each test is one hour long. You may take up to 3 subject tests on a single test day, with the exception of the March testing time, when only the SAT is administered. The registration procedure for these tests is the same as for the SAT. Colleges accept the SAT or the ACT.

ACT: The American College Test (ACT) is a college admissions test required by many 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 www.act.org.  Colleges accept the ACT or the SAT.

Tip:  Most colleges and universities will accept either SAT or ACT scores. Always check the college 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.

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 early spring, MSJHS AP exam online 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 information is available online.  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 subject test offerings. It is mainly for students whose primary language is not English.


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.  

3) SAT Subject tests are subject based tests and are best taken in June, after you have completed the year of study in that subject.

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 Subject Test in Biology, if you have completed Honors Biology and plan to major in a closely related subject.  Check specific colleges’ requirements for SAT subject 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
  • June: Any appropriate SAT subject tests, if you plan to major in a closely related subject or the college you are targeting requires it

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 appropriate SAT Subject tests or the ACT

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 either the SAT or any needed SAT Subject Test(s). 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 both the SAT and the SAT subject tests.)
  • December: Save this test date to improve any test results that are still unsatisfactory


SAT Subject Tests at UC Campuses
While SAT Subject Tests are not required; some campuses recommend that freshman applicants interested in competitive majors take the tests to demonstrate subject proficiency.

Recommendations for fall 2015 applicants (from the UC website)

Remember, these are recommendations, not mandates. You will not be penalized for failing to take the SAT Subject Tests. On the other hand, submission of these test scores (just like submission of AP and/or IB scores) may add positively to the review of your application.

Berkeley - College of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant's intended major.

Davis - Not recommended for any area.

Irvine - Henry Samueli School of Engineering: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant's intended major.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Biology M, Chemistry, and/or Math Level 2 .

School of Physical Sciences: Chemistry and Math Level 2 for chemistry, earth system science, mathematics, and physics majors.

Program in Public Health: Biology E, Biology M, and/or Chemistry for public health science majors; Biology E, Biology M, and/or World History for public health policy majors.

Los Angeles - Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant's intended major.

Merced - No recommendation at this time.

Riverside - College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Bourns College of Engineering: Math 2 and Chemistry or Physics, for all majors

San Diego - Jacobs School of Engineering and biological or physical sciences majors: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.

Santa Barbara - College of Engineering: Math Level 2

College of Creative Studies:

  • 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

Santa Cruz - Not recommended for any area.


Last Modified on October 19, 2015