Taking Required Tests

If you're applying to college you may need to take certain tests

Many U.S. colleges require that undergraduate students submit standardized test scores as part of their application packages. Standardized tests provide a consistent way for a college to evaluate you and sometimes even help you choose the right courses.

For information about which tests you should take, talk to your high school or counselor, or to the admissions offices at the colleges you are interested in attending. In the meantime, here’s a summary of most standardized tests.


The SAT measures your ability rather than knowledge. The 3 ¾-hour test contains three sections: writing, critical reading, and math. Most of the questions are multiple-choice.

Some colleges may also require you to take an SAT Subject Test. SAT Subject Tests measure your knowledge in specific subjects within five general categories: English, mathematics, history, science, and languages. Specific subjects range from English literature to biology to Modern Hebrew. SAT Subject Tests are primarily multiple-choice, and each lasts one hour.

Both the SAT and SAT Subject Tests are offered several times a year at locations across the country. The College Board provides detailed information about the SAT and SAT Subject Tests, including information about preparing to take the test, what to take with you on test day, and understanding your scores.


Like the SAT, the ACT is accepted by almost all colleges and universities. But instead of measuring how you think, the ACT measures what you’ve learned in school.

The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, reading, mathematics, and science. If your college requires a writing test, you can take the ACT Plus Writing, which includes a writing test in addition to the other four tests. These tests are offered several times a year at locations (usually high schools and colleges) across the country.