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PSAT, SAT & ACT Testing

PSAT, SAT and ACT Tests 

Most four-year colleges require students to submit assessment scores for admission. For the majority of these colleges, students have a choice between the SAT (also known as SAT Reasoning) and the ACT. In addition, private universities and some out-of-state public colleges require students to complete 1-3 SAT Subject Tests.

The UC system is no longer requiring SAT Subject Tests, but subject tests will be recommended for certain majors.  Certain private schools will require SAT Subject Test(s).  Students should check with the college's website to confirm.
The PSAT (Practice SAT) is held once a year in October.  Designed for 11th graders, Prospect students sign up for the PSAT in August and September with Jennifer Keh, Guidance Registrar.  Sophomores may also consider taking the test, but only Juniors are entered into the National Merit Scholarship qualifying test (PSAT/NMSQT).  Taking the PSAT helps Juniors (and Sophomores) prepare for the SAT.

Del Mar High School CEEB Code: # 053083
(Students will need this code for SAT and ACT testing, as well as college applications)

Recommended Testing Timeline  


Freshman Year (9th) No testing - focus on transitioning successfully into high school. Study hard and join clubs, sports teams, and participate in school & community activities.

Sophomore Year (10th) *  Take the PSAT in October, if you wish
*  SAT Subject test in May/June if you complete a course you feel confident about

Junior Year (11th) *  Take the PSAT in October
*  Take the SAT and/or ACT exams in spring (both offered several times from January through June)
*  SAT Subject test in May/June if you complete a course you feel confident about

Senior Year (12th) *  Most colleges accept test scores through December of senior year, but some require testing completed by October - check their websites
*  Use the fall to retake tests to improve scores if necessary

 SAT and ACT Comparison Chart
 SAT and ACT Comparison Chart




When did it change?

March 2005

February 2005

What are the changes?

Paragraph-length critical reading passages, an essay, and more challenging math. No more analogies or quantitative comparisons.

Addition of an "optional" essay

When is it administered?

Seven times per year

Six times per year

What is the test structure?

Ten-section exam: Three Critical Reading, three Math, three Writing, and one Experimental. The Experimental section is masked to look like a regular section.

Four-section exam: English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning. An Experimental section is added to tests on certain dates only, and is clearly experimental.

What is the test content?

Math: up to 9th grade basic geometry and Algebra II.Science: none. Reading: sentence completions, short and long critical reading passages, reading comprehension. Stresses vocabulary. More questions testing grammar, usage, and word choice.

Math: up to trigonometry. Sciencesection included. Reading: four passages, one each of Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. Stresses grammar.

Is there a penalty for wrong answers?



How is the test scored?

200-800 per section, added together for a combined score. A 2400 is the highest possible combined score.

1-36 for each subject, averaged for a composite score. A 36 is the highest possible composite score.

Are all scores sent to schools?

Yes. If a student requests a score report be sent to specific colleges, the report will include the scores the student received on every SAT taken.

No. There is a "Score Choice" option. Students can choose which schools will receive their scores AND which scores the schools will see.

Are there other uses for the exams?

Scholarship purposes.

Scholarship purposes. Certain statewide testing programs.

Best time to register?

At least six weeks before the test date

At least four weeks before the test date

Need more information?

Please note that Prospect High or CUHSD are not responsible for the content or design of the website to which you will be directed.

Educational Testing Service (ETS)
(609) 771-7600
The College Board

ACT, Inc.:
(319) 337-1000


Test Prep

Click on each link below for access to test prep material: 

    The ACT Test is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students' academic readiness for college.
    The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.
    The SAT provides a trusted, nationally recognized indicator of your academic readiness for college. In a way, the SAT is the bridge between the hard work you’ve already done and the college that is the best fit for the future you are about to create.
    Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where you excel. These are the only national admission tests where you choose the tests that best showcase your achievements and interests.

    ACT prep videos are provided free of charge to help students prepare for the ACT.