Standardized Testing

Types of Standardized Tests:

Preliminary SAT/SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)

Each October, students in grades 9-11 will take the PSAT/NMSQT at no cost to the student. This test measures the same skills and has the same format, directions, and question types as the SAT and therefore provides not only practice for the SAT, but also feedback to students, parents and teachers on critical academic skills.

Results from the PSAT/NMSQT are returned to students in December in the form of a Score Report Plus which, when used in conjunction with the student’s test booklet, allows the student to see the correct answer and difficulty level for each question. Percentile scores on the Score Report Plus allow students to compare themselves with other college bound peers. The Your Skills section of the Report provides students with feedback on their pattern of responses across test questions. This allows students to see which skills they need to improve. By going online to, students can not only access suggestions for improving these skills and sample questions, but they can also access a personalized study plan for the SAT.

For juniors, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSQT) uses the PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index (the sum of critical reading, mathematics and writing section skills) as an initial screen of program entrants for three annual competitions for recognition and scholarships – the National Merit Scholarship Program, the National Hispanic Recognition Program, and the National Achievement Scholarship Program.

Advanced Placement (AP)

University School offers its students 24 different AP courses, culminating in exams, which allow students to earn college credit, placement or both. Not only do AP classes prepare students for the higher level coursework of college, but taking AP courses demonstrates to colleges that students are willing to pursue the most rigorous curriculum available to them.

College Admissions Tests

College and guidance counselors assist students in developing a plan for taking and preparing for the SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests. Every university accepts both the SAT and ACT exams.

Features of the SAT will include:

  • 1600 Point Maximum, 3 hour exam
  • Vocabulary will focus on words that students will encounter at college
  • The essay is not required: students can choose whether or not to write an optional essay (check the college website for requirements)
  • Math questions focus on three areas: linear equations, complex equations/functions; and ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. Calculators are permitted on only part of the math section.
  • Evidence-Based reading and writing section: includes well known quotes, documents and speeches (e.g. Declaration of Indendence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address).
  • Scientific items will be included in both sections.

We suggest that most students try both the SAT and the ACAT, at least once in order to see which exam they are most comfortable taking.

SAT Subject Tests

SAT ll exams are one hour subject tests that are designed for students to demonstrate mastery in a particular subject area. Most colleges do not require the SAT subject test. Students should refer to the website of each college for specific testing requirements. SAT ll exams are required by Ivy League universities, certain highly selective universities, and certain engineering or accelerated medical programs. Students are usually only expected to take two SAT ll exams. Most Ivy and highly selective universities will accept the ACT with writing in place of the SAT ll exams ( please check the requirements with the specific college). There are twenty SAT subject tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science. If the college does not require a specific SAT subject test, we recommend that the student take the subject test in the subject area that has been completed to the highest level (AP Spanish = SAT subject test – Spanish Language, AP World History = SAT subject test – World History)


Students are required to submit a photo with the registration. By providing your photograph, you will be ensuring the integrity of the test administration for all students. Your photo will become a part of your admission ticket, and will be available to University School and to your colleges (where you send your scores). Photos must be properly focused with a full-face view, be clearly identifiable as you, and matches your appearance on test day. If your photo is not easily recognizable as you, the test center will not allow you to sit for the exam. The digital photo must be at least 325x390 pixels. Digital photos must be in one of these file formats: jpg or gif. If you have any questions regarding the new photo requirements, please contact College Board or see your college counselor.

Score Choice

Score Choice is a score-reporting feature that gives students the option to choose the SAT scores by test date and SAT Subject Test scores by individual test that they send to colleges, in accordance with each institution's individual score-use practice

Most schools will take the best verbal and best math SAT scores even if they are from different test dates. As for the ACT, some schools will mix the sub-test scores.

Reminders About Test Taking

  • Check each college for its requirements about SAT/SAT Subject Tests; how many and which Subject Tests; last test result accepted for application?
  • Allow six weeks: 1) to register—the registration deadline is about six weeks before the test date; 2) to report scores—it takes six weeks from the test date for colleges to receive your test results.
  • You cannot take both the SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Tests on the same date.
  • Note Subject Test dates carefully: Subject Tests are not offered on all SAT test dates. Certain subjects, especially the language with listening lists, are only offered on one or two test dates.
  • Language listening tests are only offered on the November test date.

Which Tests To Take When

  • Allow three test dates for the SAT or ACT, one in the winter and one in the spring of the junior year, and one in the fall of the senior year (if necessary).
  • Take Subject Tests in May or June of the junior year, or the terminal year of the subject. If students have completed the subject track to the highest level, it is beneficial to sit for the exam in May or June. 
  • Consider the requirements of colleges for particular Subject Tests and test dates. Very few colleges require Subject Tests.

How to Register

Students register on their own for the SAT and the ACT and select test sites. Students may also register online or by telephone. To register for the SAT the access is: and for the ACT the access is: For the SAT the access is, and the phone number is (800) 728-7267. For the ACT, the access is, and the phone number is (319) 337-1270.

PLEASE NOTE: For students who receive extended time on the SAT exam:

  • Be sure to use your SSD Code when registering
  • If the SAT will be your first test after being approved, bring this letter to the administration to be sure that you are tested with your accommodations.
  • If you registered for the SAT prior to being approved for accommodations, contact SSD at least two weeks before the test date so that your registration can be changed to reflect the accommodations. Because it takes time to make testing arrangements, changes requested less than two weeks before a test date cannot be guaranteed until the next test date.

How to Report Scores

It is a student's responsibility to arrange for testing agencies to send official scores. The College Counseling Office does not release scores to colleges. Students should always have scores sent to our school. This is accomplished by putting our high school code, 100347, in the appropriate place on the testing forms. Most students prefer to hold off sending scores directly to colleges until they have received the results. Please allow six to eight weeks for scores to reach the colleges. Some, but not all, colleges have a "rush" option for sending scores. Detailed instructions regarding sending scores are contained in the registration packet, including online and telephone sending options. To report AP scores, please call: (888) 225-5427.


Students whose first language is not English are advised to take the TOEFL. This exam is designed to reflect a student's command of the English language. A student can arrange to take the TOEFL at the Prometric Testing Center nearest to his/her home. Students may register online at

SAT Testing Dates

Test Dates Regular Reg. Dates Late Reg. Dates
January 21, 2017 January 21, 2017 January 21, 2017
March 11, 2017 March 11, 2017 March 11, 2017
May 6, 2017 May 6, 2017 May 6, 2017
August 26, 2017 August 26, 2017 August 26, 2017
October 7, 2017 October 7, 2017 October 7, 2017
November 4, 2017 November 4, 2017 November 4, 2017
December 2, 2017 December 2, 2017 December 2, 2017

ACT Testing Dates

Test Dates Regular Reg. Dates Late Reg. Dates
February 11, 2017 February 11, 2017 February 11, 2017
April 8, 2017 April 8, 2017 April 8, 2017
June 10, 2017 June 10, 2017 June 10, 2017

Below please find a list of the top 50 colleges that super-score the ACT and SAT. Colleges that superscore take the highest scores in each testing section and create a new composite score out of the best scores. Please be sure to double check a college’s website for their specific requirements. Application requirements are always subject to change.

School Superscores ACT Superscores SAT Score Choice

Boston College

Boston University



Carnegie Mellon

Case Western Reserve University

College of William and Mary







Georgia Tech


Johns Hopkins

Lehigh University


Northeastern University


Notre Dame


Pennsylvania State University


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rice University



Tulane University

UC Berkeley

UC Davis

UC Irvine

UC San Diego

UC Santa Barbara


University of Chicago

University of Florida

University of Illinois

University of Miami

University of Michigan

University of North Carolina

University of Pennsylvania

University of Rochester

University of Virginia

University of Wisconsin



Washington University


Pay close attention to the dates and deadlines above. If you register on time, there should be no need to pay late fees. The earlier you register, the more likely you are to get the test site of your choice. Test registration materials and sample question packets are available in the College Counseling Office.

SAT and ACT Suggested Study Guides:

The Official SAT Study Guide, College Board
The Real ACT Prep Guide, ACT
The Official SAT Question of the Day from the College Board
Vocabulary Cartoons and SAT Word Power
Essential SAT Vocabulary
McCraw-Hill 10 ACT Practice Tests – Third Edition