WHAT ARE THE TESTS?
The SAT Reasoning Test is designed to assess general ability. It consists of ten
sections: three critical reading, three math, three writing and one
experimental. The test lasts almost four hours and has a guessing penalty. The
test is scored out of 2400.
The ACT is
designed to be an achievement test based on a general high school curriculum.
It consists of five sections: one each of math, English, reading, writing and
science reasoning. The test lasts almost three hours and there is no guessing
penalty. The test is scored out of 36.
SAT Subject Tests
(formerly known as the SAT IIs) are designed to measure
student mastery of Math, English, Foreign Language, History and Science. The
tests are independent of any particular textbook and are all one-hour,
multiple-choice tests graded on an 800-point scale.
The Advanced Placement (AP) Program allows high school students to take college-level
courses in high school. The College Board sets AP curricula, while text
selection and instructional methods are left to individual teachers. Each AP
course has a corresponding exam made up of multiple choice and free response
questions and is graded on a 5-point scale. Menlo expects a student enrolled in
an AP course to take the exam. However, students are not required to take an AP
course prior to taking an AP Exam.
WHAT TESTS SHOULD I
We recommend that students take at
least one SAT Reasoning Test or ACT and two SAT Subject Tests by the end of
their junior year. Menlo expects a student enrolled in an AP course to take the
Now for some details:
Most juniors choose to take the
SAT for the first time in March of their junior year and/or the ACT in April
(students who hope to be recruited for college athletics should take the January
SAT or February ACT in their junior year). It is also a good idea for most students
to retake the SAT Reasoning Test in October or the ACT in September of their
Should I consider
taking the ACT?
Yes. Every college in the country will accept the ACT or
SAT, and no college requires both. Generally speaking, if a student is a hard
worker, earns high grades, and is stronger with math and science than with
grammar and vocabulary, the ACT might play to their strengths. Students who are
satisfied with their PSAT results may be well served by only trying the SAT.
SAT Subject Tests
We recommend that students take
all of the SAT Subject Tests for which they are qualified. Many private
colleges require two SAT Subject Tests in different subject areas. Students
should take the SAT Subject Test immediately following the conclusion of their
relevant course work. For a full explanation of SAT Subject Tests, including
which to take, when to take them and how to register, click here.
Colleges do not require AP test
results for admissions purposes. However, students can often help their
applications at some colleges by self-reporting their scores of 3 or higher on
their applications. Some colleges will not consider AP scores for admissions at
What’s the difference
between the AP English Literature and AP English Language exams?
All junior English courses at
Menlo are designed to prepare students for the AP Literature test, and the School
recommends that all students sit for this test. The AP Language test is focused
on non-literary writing and contains a section on citation. The tests are
considered identically for the granting of college credit or placement, and
they are designed to be equally challenging. Some Menlo students choose to take
both exams and should feel free to do so, although they should also feel no
pressure to take both.
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
SAT Reasoning/Subject and ACT
Families are responsible for
registering their students for SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject Tests at
sat.collegeboard.com and the ACT at actstudent.org. The ACT, SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject
tests are given on Saturdays at locations around the Bay Area.
Students enrolled in AP classes must register and pay for exams through Menlo’s
website or at the Bookstore in order for Menlo to complete a student’s registration. Students not enrolled in AP classes may also register. The AP tests are given at Menlo during the school day in May.
HOW DO I REPORT MY
SCORES TO COLLEGES?
Students are responsible for
sending official copies of their ACT, SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject Test scores
directly to colleges through act.org and collegeboard.com.
Reasoning/Subject and ACT Tests
Both the SAT and ACT allow
students to send only selected scores to colleges in what is called “score
choice.” However, many colleges do not allow students to use SAT score choice
in their admissions processes; they require that all sittings of all tests be
submitted. Students need to check each college’s policy carefully. In order to
avoid confusion and potential delays in decisions, we recommend that Menlo
students simply send all of their scores and let the colleges run their
admissions processes accordingly. Please talk to your student’s college
counselor for more detail on score choice.
Students should self-report any AP
score of 3 or higher on their college applications—there is no official score
report sent for admissions purposes.
HOW DO COLLEGES USE MY
SAT Reasoning and
Most colleges and universities
require either the SAT or ACT for admission. Students may send both scores if
they have them, and the school will use the score that puts the student in the
best light in that school’s admissions process.
SAT Subject Tests
Many private colleges require two SAT Subject Tests in different subject areas. For example, a student could not use a score from both the chemistry and the biology SAT Subject Test because they are both sciences. The subject tests are now optional in the UC system; however, strong scores could help your application, so we suggest taking the test.
When a student takes more SAT Subject Tests than required
by a specific college, the college will consider the student’s best two scores
with the application. In general there are no subject-specific requirements for
admissions; however, students should check with the schools to which they plan
to apply on this issue. For example, applicants to engineering programs are
often required to have taken the Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test. Also, the UC
system does not accept the Math Level 1 test.
Colleges use AP scores to award
credit or placement to incoming students. Every college and university has its
own policies for how they award credit or placement for different AP exams. For
a guide to different schools’ policies, visit the College Board’s AP Credit
Policy information webpage.
RECOMMEND TEST PREP?
Most students benefit from preparing for standardized tests.
Students should at least familiarize themselves with the format of the tests
before taking them. Most students do much more preparation for these tests than
this. This ranges from preparing independently using books and the resources on
the College Board and ACT websites, to taking test prep courses to working with
private tutors. Keep in mind that a student’s course work and grades are more
important than standardized test results, so taking time away from homework and
studying to prepare for standardized tests can be a bad strategy. Many students
choose to prepare for the SAT and ACT in the summer between the junior and
offers prep classes, taught by Revolution Prep instructors, in the summer for
both the SAT and ACT. In addition, Menlo teachers offer test review sessions
for the SAT Subject Tests in Literature, Biology, Chemistry and Math II.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT
TO TAKE THESE TESTS?
There are approximately 800
American colleges and universities (some of which are highly selective) that do
not require any standardized testing for admissions. A complete list can be
found at FairTest.