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College Entrance Test Overview

It is very important that you take college entrance tests, a requirement for admission at many colleges and universities. Some require you to have certain minimum scores. Further, many will base whether or not you receive institutional merit-based financial aid, and how much you will receive if you are eligible, off of your scores. This is why it is so important to take these tests, and probably to take them more than once!

SAT Overview

Purpose: The SAT is a college entrance, examination often required for college admission. The SAT measures skills in evidence-based reading & writing and math.

Duration: It takes 3 hours to complete the 154 test questions. There is also an optional 50 minute essay section.

Scoring: Each section (reading & writing and math) is scored on a scale of 200-800. The best possible score that you can attain on the SAT is a total of 1600.

Price: The fee to take the SAT without the essay is $46 and $60 with the essay.  A fee waiver is available.

Website: For more information about the SAT, including test registration, sample tests, additional fees and more, visit:  

 Following are the 2017-2018 SAT test dates and registration deadlines: 

 Test Date Registration Deadline  *Late Registration Deadline (Fee Applies) 

*Deadline for Changes (Fee Applies) 

 August 26, 2017  July 28, 2017
 August 15, 2017  August 15, 2017
 October 7, 2017   September 8, 2017 September 27, 2017 September 27, 2017
 November 4, 2017   October 5, 2017   October 25, 2017   October 25, 2017 
 December 2, 2017  November 2, 2017  November 21, 2017  November 21, 2017
March 10, 2018  February 9, 2018   February 28, 2018  February 28, 2018
 May 5, 2018   April 6, 2018   April 25, 2018   April 25, 2018 
 June 2, 2018   May 3, 2018  May 23, 2018  May 23, 2018 

* Deadlines expire at midnight, EDT (U.S.A.) 

ACT Overview

Purpose: The ACT is another common college entrance exam often required for college admission. The ACT measures knowledge and skills in four multiple-choice sections which cover English, math, reading and science reasoning. 

Duration: Students have approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete the 215 questions (not including breaks, etc.). There is also an optional 30-minute writing test. You will want to check to see if your prospective college requires the writing portion.

Scoring: The best possible score on the ACT is a 36

Price: The fee to take the ACT is $42.50 without the writing section, and $58.50 with the writing section.

Website: For more information about the ACT, including test registration, sample tests, additional fees and more, visit:

 Following are the 2017-2018 ACT test dates and registration deadlines:

 Test Date Registration Date  *Late Registration (Fee Applies) 
 September 9, 2017 August 4, 2017  August 5-18, 2017
October 28, 2017  September 22, 2017  Sept.23-Oct.6, 2017
December 9, 2017  November 3, 2017 November 4-17, 2017
 February 10, 2018 January 12, 2018  January 13-18, 2018 
April 14, 2018  March 9, 2018 March 10-23, 2018
June 9, 2018 May 4, 2018  May 5-18, 2018
 July 14, 2018 June 15, 2018  June 16-22, 2018 

Additional fees apply (for both ACT & SAT) if you register late or make changes to your test type, center or date after registering.

There are several websites that offer free test preparation such as  To prepare for these important tests, consider checking out such sites for free SAT and ACT test preparation courses.

Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start taking college entrance tests?

Ideally, you want to take either (or both) tests twice in the junior year so there is adequate time to retest in the fall of the senior year. Keep in mind that many colleges take the best sub-scores and recalculate the totals across multiple tests. You might want to inquire at the school you are interested in to see if they do that.

How do I know how my test scores match up with other students at an Indiana college/university? Check out the Profiles section of this website to see if the college has listed their "middle 50%" test scores. That means that they are neither showing you the top 25% nor the bottom 25%, but instead are showing you the middle 50% of scores for admitted students. If a college hasn't listed any scores, you might contact their admissions department or check their website.

When should I take the test(s)? Unless a student receives very high scores on the first attempt of either test, students are encouraged to take the test again to maximize the best combination of sub scores from multiple test dates for admission and scholarship purposes. Ideally, a student needs to take the SAT and/or ACT twice in the spring of their junior year, so scores are available for early admission and/or scholarship deadlines in the fall.

What is superscoring? Many times, the schools will do what is called “superscoring,” which means they will take the best scores from each section and combine them. For instance, if on your first attempt at the SAT you get a 400 on verbal, 400 on reading and 600 on math, and then on your second attempt at the test you get a 500 on verbal, 500 on reading and a 500 on math, they will take the highest, so your score at a school that superscores would be: 500 on verbal, 500 on reading, and 600 on math. This is also why a student should consider taking the test(s) more than once.

So what do the test scores have to do with financial aid? At many institutions, the test scores are factored into the merit and need-based financial aid awards. This means that the schools will look at the test scores to determine how much money a student will receive. Most of the time the test scores are not the only factor in determining merit and  need-based awards—other factors that might be looked at include: GPA, rank in class, Expected Family Contribution (EFC), rigor of high school course selection, etc. However, it is important that you get the highest test score you can so that you can maximize your chances of receiving more money from the institution.

What if I took the tests multiple times and did not do well on them? What should I do? There are many colleges and universities that are test-optional, meaning you do not have to submit test scores. This might be a good Plan B if you are not a good test-taker. Here is a list of some of the schools that are test-optional: