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Guidance

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When do I take the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT?


Here is a summary of when to take each test.  Please note that all Class III and Class II students are automatically registered for the PSAT and it is administered at BLS.  Students are responsible for scheduling and registering for all other testing on their own.



Timing

Test

Notes

Class III Fall

PSAT

Test administered at BLS.  All 10th graders are automatically registered.

Class III Spring

(Optional) Subject Tests

Some students choose to take the Subject Test in World History or Latin if they have excelled in these courses.

Class II Fall

PSAT

Test administered at BLS.  All 11th graders are automatically registered.

Class II Spring

SAT and/or Subject Test and or ACT

Testing Dates and registration information for the SAT can be found here.  

Class I Fall (August - December)

SAT and/or Subject Test or ACT

The same can be found here for the ACT.


Please note that each student has a unique testing plan.  Please see your guidance counselor to share your plan and ask for advice.  


Which test should students take when applying to college – the SAT or ACT?

All but a few BLS students take the SAT each year.  We believe that the new version of this test will continue to best serve the needs of our students but would suggest that students explore both tests before making any decision.  Forty-six members of the Class of 2016 (11%) took both the SAT and ACT and

·         61% scored higher on the SAT,

·         29% scored higher on the ACT,

·         11% scored the same on both.

Summit Educational Group has published a comparison of the SAT and ACT and it can be found here. You can also download a practice ACT test with test-taking tips here.


Are there fee waivers available?

While we would like to be in a position to assist all students with the significant fees involved in taking college admission tests and applying to college, we are only allowed to offer fee waivers to members of Classes I and II who meet the standards set by the testing organization.  There are no test fee waivers available to members of Classes III and IV.

Students who believe they are eligible for a fee waiver must have a parent complete the application and return with a parent signature to their guidance counselor as soon as possible.  Students or parents who have questions should speak with their counselor.


Should students also take the SAT optional essay?

At this point, it appears that there are few colleges who either require or recommend the New SAT Optional Essay. However, that may change and students would be well-advised to keep an eye on the following website over the next few months: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/college-essay-policies.

Meanwhile, we would suggest that students who are considering applying to any college that requires the essay should take it during the spring when they sit for the SAT. Students who are considering an application to any college that recommends the essay would also probably be well-served by taking it before the end of junior year


Should students take an SAT prep course?

Over the years, BLS has tried offering SAT prep classes after school and on weekends. Each year they were offered we compared the score results for students who took the course with those who did not.  Despite the fact that these classes were offered in different years by Princeton Review, Kaplan and Summit Educational Group, all reputable and well-respected in the field, we did not see significant differences in the results.

Also, excellent free SAT and ACT test preparation is available online. Khan Academy has teamed up with the College Board to create personalized SAT practice for anyone, anywhere for free.  In fact, this prep program links to your PSAT score report to help you target those areas where you may have weaknesses. Students are given personalized practice recommendations and instant feedback on how they’re doing. ACT has also launched a free test preparation tool called ACT Academy.


Additionally, this year Boston Latin School has purchased a one year trial of the Gale Database, which has complete practice tests. The Gale Database can be accessed here, but students must be logged into their BPS Email address.


Here are some additional options that students might consider for test preparation:

·         Let’s Get Ready's mission is to expand college access for motivated high school students by providing FREE SAT preparation and college admission counseling. While this is a free program, the program targets students who are, or have been, free or reduced lunch recipients, first generation college students or are otherwise unable to afford these types of services. BLS students are invited to apply for one of the programs in the Boston area.  Here's a link to their website. From there, students can choose the program they're interested in from the menus at the bottom and will be directed to the online application form.

·         Summit Educational Group offers free proctored practice tests to interested students. These tests take place on weekend mornings in several convenient locations. The tests will be timed and proctored to simulate the actual test-taking experience for students. Follow this link to the list of practice test dates Summit is offering.


What about the SAT Subject Tests?

Subject tests are one-hour, multiple-choice tests that measure student knowledge of particular subjects and the ability to apply that knowledge.  A few of the most selective colleges want to see the results of as many as two or, in very rare cases, three different tests.  Click here for a list you can download.

It is best to take a subject test after completion of the course of study in a subject where the student has done well and while the material is still fresh.   On any test administration day, students may take one, two or three tests.  Students must register well in advance at www.collegeboard.org.

Any student interested in taking one of these tests after their first year of a science should speak to their present science teacher.


By June of sophomore year, students who are taking AP World History, and have done well, would seem to be well positioned to take the Subject test in World History. Students may also consider taking Math Level I, Latin or a Foreign Language test.

By June of junior year, students who are completing A.P. U.S. History should consider taking the U.S. History test.  Students who are finishing an A.P. science course might also consider taking Biology, Chemistry or Physics.  Those enrolled in Advanced Pre-Calculus might consider taking the Math Level 2 test and others might take the Math Level 1 test.  Students who are finishing a fourth year of Foreign Language or an advanced Latin course could consider taking a test in these areas.

By November or December of senior year, students could consider taking one of the Math, Literature or any other tests that seem appropriate.


To get a better sense of what scores you might expect, following are results from the Class of 2016:

Test

# students

25%ile

75%ile

average

Biology - Ecology

42

610

730

673

Biology - Molecular

52

620

740

677

Chemistry

51

610

740

683

Chinese with Listening

6

670

770

715

English Literature

77

580

700

637

French

6

420

530

517

Italian

15

560

680

612

Latin

42

670

790

701

Math Level I

106

610

700

655

Math Level II

161

650

770

702

Physics

35

620

710

671

Spanish

23

540

730

646

U.S. History

112

620

740

672

World History

75

590

710

655


For additional information on how to interpret your test scores, visit the following link​​​​​​​.


As always, if you have questions or concerns, please see your teacher or counselor.