In order to be admitted to many colleges private and public, more than 1 million high school aged students must take a college placement test. Many four year institutions rely on the standardized tests ACT and SAT. Many schools will accept either test, and some schools accept both tests. For schools on the west and east coast, the SAT I is generally accepted, while in the Midwest and central US, the ACT is accepted more.
The ACT test is a general college placement test that covers English, math, reading, science and reasoning skills as well as an optional writing test. The test fee is $32 with an additional $15 for the writing test and takes up to 3 hours and 25 minutes with the writing test. The SAT I is $45 and takes up to 3 hours and 45 minutes, and covers reading and math reasoning as well as writing skills. The SAT II is generally used for a specific area of study and tests on one subject alone. The cost for this test ranges from $29 to $40, and students are given one hour to complete the test. The TOEFL is the equivalent of the SAT test, and is given to those who are not native English speaking persons, to understand and use English. This is an internet based test and is the most common in the US. The fees associated with this test are $150, and for the internet version of the test you are given 4 hours and 40 minutes. If you complete the paper version of the test, you are given 3 hours and 30 minutes for completion.
The average ACT score is a composite score of 21.1, while the verbal average on the SAT I nationwide is 501. The average math score is 515, and the average writing score is 493 across the United States. Many high school juniors are given the PSAT or the preliminary SAT test during school hours. This tests the reading and math skills as well as the writing skills and allows for improvement of these areas before taking the SAT during senior year. The fee for this test is $13, but can be waived for those students who are on waivers or discounted programs, and all are given 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete the tests.
Many 2 year colleges or even community colleges and career institutes require tests that are much like the ACT and SAT I, and some ask that the student at least take one type of college placement test before being admitted. These tests are used to help with placement in courses according to strengths and weaknesses the student has. There are a few tests that are the most commonly used, and these include but are not limited to Accuplacer, ASAP or Academic Skills Assessment Program, COMPASS/ESL, Career Programs Assessment test or CAPt, and Wonderlic. These tests are all given free of charge in most cases on the campus of the college you wish to attend. College placement tests are not used to punish students, but are used to help them get courses they need to be successful in college.